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The UKRI Balanced Funding programme

Public funding for research in English higher education is administered under a 'dual support' system.

Under this system, Research England provides annual funding for universities based in England in the form of a 'block grant' (known as quality-related research funding or QR), and the Research Councils provide funding for specific research projects and programmes. Equivalent block grant funding is provided by the relevant Funding Councils within the devolved administrations.

The strategic insight of UKRI and the local knowledge of universities therefore both help to shape research activity.

What is Balanced Funding programme?

The UKRI Strategic Prospectus states:

“The role of UKRI includes advice to Ministers on the balance between the dual support funding streams. We need to take an evidence-based approach, and are therefore undertaking work to analyse and understand what constitutes reasonable balance, and the impact that any changes to the balance could have on the sector.”

To deliver the above advice, and whilst the focus of this work will be on the English dual support system, UKRI staff are working with colleagues from across the devolved administrations and funding bodies, as well as the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), to undertake a range of evidence-gathering and analysis activities concerning the dual support system; these activities collectively form the Balanced Funding programme.

Activities within the Balanced Funding programme

UKRI recognises that the dual support system is integral to the success and sustainability of the UK research sector, but also that it forms one part of the wider university research funding landscape. Appropriate evidence must be available to support analysis and exploration of the dual support system within this context to ensure that the advice given considers the wider sustainability of the UK research sector.

Recognising this, the Balanced Funding programme comprises activities including:

  • An in-depth exploration of UKRI funding streams
  • A sector-wide survey of English Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) exploring their use of formula funding
  • Preparation of case studies capturing the value of QR across the English HEI sector
  • Workshops to explore survey findings and sector trends in more detail

The quantitative and qualitative information collected through these and other activities will help to build a more comprehensive dual support system evidence base. This will allow UKRI to analyse, understand and contextualise the levers, drivers, and role of the system in ensuring the ongoing success and sustainability of UK research.

When is the Balanced Funding programme taking place?

The first tranche of activities within the Balanced Funding programme will conclude in April 2019. Informed by the findings from these initial activities, UKRI will identify areas for further exploration and analysis to continue to build our evidence base and understanding and inform our advice.

Balanced Funding programme resources?

Included below are resources demonstrating some of the initial findings identified within the first tranche of activities within the Balanced Funding programme: