Is charity-funded research in universities under threat?

Our head of policy, Sarah Woolnough, has written an illuminating article on the New Scientist’s S Word blog this week, highlighting our concerns that the new coalition government’s cost-cutting might threaten vital cancer research in UK universities.

Along with other many other medical research charities, Cancer Research UK supports scientists working in universities across the UK. Last year alone, nearly half our research budget was spent in universities, directly supporting the costs of life-saving research.

But that’s not the whole story, as Sarah explains:

“When a researcher at a university is funded by a charity grant, the government provides a top-up for any charity-sponsored research funding that takes place within the university. This is delivered as a support element of quality related (QR) funding, and is known as the Charity Research Support Fund (CRSF).

The money comes from a general pot that the government gives to the funding councils – in England this is the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). Equivalent councils in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own, similar funds.

The worry is that while contemplating where necessary cuts might come from, this fund – worth £198million last year – might start to look rather attractive.

But we believe the impact that this would have on charity funded research, and charity funded researchers, would outweigh the relatively small gain to be made by cutting it.”

Read more at the New Scientist S Word site.