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UK research budget safe for next year

UK research funding has come off unscathed amid £135 million cuts to higher education for the academic year 2010-11, the business secretary, Peter Mandelson, has announced (Times Higher Education, The Times).

In a letter dated 22 December to Tim Melville-Ross, the chairman of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), Mandelson reiterated the government’s commitment to funding university research.

Mandelson says that teaching grants will be cut by £51 million and the remaining £84 million will come from capital budgets. After adjustments, the overall higher education grant will fall from £7.8 billion to £7.3 billion.

The HEFCE will inform universities of their individual grants in March 2010.

Steve Smith, president of Universities UK, which represents higher education institutions said in a statement the body was “encouraged that research funding is to be protected” during 2010 -11.

Paul Marshall, executive director of the 1994 Group of research intensive universities, said in a statement, “Further investment is the only viable option to prevent universities from being forced into severe cutbacks that would cause a serious decay in the UK’s higher education system with universities struggling to maintain teaching or research quality, unable to invest in the necessary world-class facilities or staff and incapable of meeting our students’ or nation’s needs.”

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said the cuts would damage the contribution universities make to the economy and society. “The HEFCE grant letter is a real Christmas kick in the teeth for staff and students,” she says.


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