UKRI endorses review to reduce red tape for UK researchers

Abstract architecture, blue panel ceiling

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has endorsed a new independent review into research bureaucracy launched today by Science Minister Amanda Solloway.

The review aims to reduce red tape for UK researchers (GOV.UK website).

The review, led by Professor Adam Tickell, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sussex, will seek to:

  • identify why bureaucracy has increased across the UK’s research system
  • provide recommendations to help reduce time-consuming administrative demands.

This will free up researchers to pursue world-class research so that they can:

  • generate knowledge
  • develop and mentor their teams
  • make a full contribution to the wider research community.

Scope of the review

The review will look to identify practical solutions to bureaucratic issues faced by researchers across the UK such as:

  • overly complicated grant forms that require in-depth financial knowledge
  • a lack of clarity over funding available to researchers
  • having to provide the same data multiple times in different formats to different funders.

It builds on the government’s introduction of specific measures in September 2020 to reduce bureaucracy in the university research and teaching system. The measures were introduced by:

  • UKRI
  • National Institute for Health Research
  • Office for Students.

This included streamlining over 200 UKRI grant schemes and introducing a digital grants application system to speed up the process.

Its recommendations will balance safeguarding the need to demonstrate impact and value for money while supporting the UK research environment, particularly higher education institutions, to be more:

  • streamlined
  • dynamic
  • diverse
  • transparent.

UKRI progress on reducing bureaucracy

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) reducing bureaucracy review will dovetail with UKRI’s existing Simpler and Better Funding programme. The programme will review and improve the systems and processes used when applying for funding from UKRI.

It is our goal to cut any unnecessary bureaucracy so that researchers and innovators can spend more time developing their ideas, and less time filling in forms.

UKRI Chief Executive Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, said:

We are already making strides within our Simpler and Better Funding programme, which aims to make the funding process as user-friendly as possible for applicants, peer reviewers and awardees, as well as those who work with them.

We look forward to supporting BEIS in delivering this review, and working with them to create a research and innovation system that delivers for everyone.

Timetable

The system-wide review will conclude by early 2022, with interim findings due to be published this autumn. It will involve broad engagement with the whole UK research community, with a particular focus being placed on research undertaken in higher education institutions.

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