RCUK report warns of university research cutbacks

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A £1bn cut to government funding for university research could lead to a 10 times reduction in the UK’s GDP.

This is the assertion of researchers behind a report released by Research Councils UK (RCUK) ahead of the government’s spending review next week.

The release of the report, ‘Research for our future: UK business success through public investment in research’, coincides with news of a leaked email stating universities in England face funding cuts of £4.2bn in the upcoming spending review.

This could signal cuts totalling £3.2bn from teaching and £1bn from research.

Jonathan Haskel, a professor of economics at Imperial College Business School, who provided economic analysis for the report said university research adds £40bn a year to the UK economy.

‘If support for research councils were cut by £1bn then GDP would fall by about £10bn,’ he added.

Haskel also said that government investment into university research demonstrates a return on investment of £4bn a year.

His analysis also looked into the time it takes research to create an economic impact and found this typically takes between one to two years. However, he admitted fundamental research could take a longer time to execute and disseminate into the economy.

The report, which was authored by Romesh Vaitilingam from the London School of Economics Centre for Economic Performance, also indicated that multinational companies see value in locating research and development facilities in the UK so they can benefit from interaction with local universities.