HEFCE commitment to developing partnership with research charities

Posted on November 17, 2011 by


Hat tip to Mia at Breast Cancer Campaign who was reading through the HEFCE business plan and spotted a very clear statement of their commitment to work with charities to fund research. Charities fund research in universities in partnership with funding from HEFCE so it is good to see their ongoing commitment to developing this partnership.


On 1 November HEFCE published their business plan for 2011-15 HEFCE business plan 2011-2015: principles priorities and practices. Basically the time frame over which all the government’s planned changes to higher education will take effect. In fact this document is clear that the landscape is changing and a lot of the plans this sets out will need to be flexible, respond to the outcomes of ongoing consultations etc.

This business plan builds on HEFCE’s strategy statement Opportunity,choice and excellence in higher education which was published in July and talked a lot about HEFCE’s role as the single biggest funder of research in the UK, and their goal to foster innovation and growth, knowledge exchange etc. It also restated their commitment to partnering research funded by charities, including in its objectives for research:

To encourage and enable institutions to undertake excellent research funded from
a variety of sources including international research agencies, business and the
research charities.

The government, through HEFCE, partners charities funding in English universities to support the full costs of doing the research in universities. (there are similar partnerships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland)

This funding is part of the HEFCE funding stream allocated to Quality-related Research (QR funding) and  is often referred to as the Charity Research Support Fund. It meets the indirect costs of research, such as maintaining general university infrastructure, which fall outside charitable objectives, so cannot be covered by charities.

This graphic nicely shows the value of this partnership funding and charitable investment in university research across the UK.

Back in June, the government made a clear commitment to the continuance of this partnership funding throughout the spending review period – so up to 2014-15.

This strategy also talked about HEFCE’s role as a “regulator” of higher education.

This business plan published this month aims to outline the detail of what HEFCE need to achieve and how they will put this strategy in place.

So, the interesting bit for charities

There is much more detail in the business plan on how HEFCE plan to deliver their strategy to support research and encourage greater knowledge exchange, innovation and enterprise in universities. There’s also a big focus on how their work supports the government plan for growth.

But particularly valuable for charities is the section of the business plan focused on research which lists HEFCE’s key activities, including:

Encouraging universities and colleges to conduct excellent research with, and co-sponsored by, private companies and other organisations

We will continue to reward universities and colleges through our funding allocations for the research they undertake in support of businesses and charities. In partnership with those other funders, we will develop research policy and directions that make the most efficient use of private and public funding.

This commitment to continuing and developing this partnership is valuable to see.

Posted in: Policy