UCU has called for prioritised investment in block grant funding for research, arguing that publicly-funded research allows academics to undertake more innovative research than through private funding.
UCU also wants to see a real terms increase in the research budget to around 3% of GDP to bring the UK in line with other countries such as Germany and the US, as well as an increase in the number of research council-funded studentships.
A key objective of research policy is to strike a balance between, on the one hand, supporting research excellence, and, on the other, encouraging dynamism in the sector, allowing new subjects and centres to develop. We are concerned that the recent policy of increasing the concentration of funding in a small number of ‘leading’ institutions risks undermining the health and dynamism of the research base as whole, and reducing the capacity of some regions to undertake necessary research.
On postgraduate training we have called for an increase in the number of research council funded studentships and whilst we continue to press universities to take their role as employers of researchers seriously, UCU encourages the research councils to examine ways in which they could take action to facilitate rather than hinder the permanent employment of research staff on the appropriate academic grade.
UCU feels the time is right to consider a wide-ranging long-term review of research policy, with a broad membership base and opportunities for genuine consultation with staff, students and employers. Such a review should be undertaken by the next government at the earliest opportunity.