Funding we allocate - Research England


What formula-based funding can be used for

Formula-based funding can be spent on your high education provider’s own priorities, as long as these relate to activities we are empowered to fund, which are:

  • research
  • knowledge exchange
  • related activities.

You must comply with Research England’s terms and conditions. If there are further requirements you need to meet we will let you know.

Knowledge exchange funding

Most of our funds for knowledge exchange are allocated on the basis of knowledge-based interactions by higher education providers and the wider world, which result in benefits to the economy and society.

We support and incentivise performance through the Higher Education Innovation Fund. Individual allocations are calculated using:

Your higher education provider must only spend this funding on knowledge exchange. This should be in keeping with your knowledge exchange strategic objectives and government priorities for the funding.

In this way you:

  • can target spending towards your own priorities
  • do not need to account for your spending in detail.

Find out more about Higher Education Innovation Fund policies and priorities.

Research funding

Most of our funds for research are distributed on the basis of quality, known as quality-related research funding.

Your higher education provider can use Quality-Related Research (QR) funding as it chooses, rather than funding being directed to a particular research programme. This includes investing in research infrastructure and doing research in keeping with your higher education provider’s priorities.

Find out more about quality-related research funding.

For a full breakdown of how we allocate different types of funding on an academic year basis, see our funding allocations.

Mainstream QR funding

Mainstream funding makes up about two-thirds of the total QR funding we allocate. It is based on research:

  • quality
  • volume
  • costs of working in a particular subject area, for example, laboratory-based research.

We also take into account London weighting.

We use the Research Excellence Framework (REF) to measure quality. We administer this every five to seven years on behalf of the four UK higher education funding bodies. As well as Research England this includes the:

  • Scottish Funding Council
  • Higher Education Funding Council for Wales
  • Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland.

Research degree programme supervision fund

This fund is to help your higher education provider meet the costs of supervising research degree programmes.

We allocate funding based on the departments that receive mainstream quality-related research funding by the number of full-time equivalent postgraduate students within those departments. The allocation also considers quality, relative costs and London weighting.

Charity support element

Many charities support research in higher education but are not always able to meet the full economic costs of research. This is particularly common in medical research.

We allocate additional funding to your higher education provider in proportion to the income received from charities for research. This includes London weighting.

Business research element

We provide funding to support higher education providers that carry out research with business and industry. This is allocated in proportion to the income they receive from business for research.

Funding for National Research Libraries

We allocate grants to support five designated National Research Libraries owned by higher education providers.

These are libraries that:

  • have a unique collection or critical mass of rare material
  • make a significant and essential contribution to the national research base
  • incur associated costs more than the higher education provider could be expected to bear alone
  • have a track record of providing high-quality services to external users.

Policy support fund

This fund replaces the QR strategic priorities funding (QR SPF) allocated over the last two years to support policy-related research and activity.

As with QR SPF, this is a financial year allocation so this year (2021 to 2022) the funding can support activity undertaken between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2022.

Eligible activity includes:

  • new and extended research activity working in partnership with policymakers
  • activity aimed at improving the dialogue and facilitating the use of existing research and the exchange of knowledge between universities and policymakers
  • activity and training to better equip academics to communicate effectively with policymakers
  • partnerships and collaborations aimed at supporting evidence-based policy making
  • the exchange of people, for example:
    • staff secondments
    • contributing towards professional doctorates in policy
    • joint PhDs.

We will be seeking more information on how funding has been spent following the end of the funding period but do not anticipate undertaking a full monitoring exercise.

Last updated: 28 October 2021

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