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Martin Paul Eve

Professor of Literature, Technology and Publishing at Birkbeck, University of London

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This post is part of an ongoing series where I intend to develop my full personal (not institutional) response to the HE Green Paper. Comments are welcome to refine this.

The Green Paper asks in Question 25:

a) What safeguards would you want to see in place in the event that dual funding was operated within a single organisation?

b) Would you favour a degree of hypothecation to ensure that dual funding streams, along with their distinctive characteristics, could not be changed by that organisation?

I think that the housing of both streams of funding under a single entity could be intensely problematic. As well as the fact that I am concerned by the severance of research from teaching, there is obviously the risk with the Research UK body that QR will be successively raided and eroded in order to target areas of strategic prioritisation.

A safeguard that I would like to see, therefore, would be to codify, in advance, the relative proportion of funding that should be weighted to each stream. For example (and only for example, since there are clearly different overheads present here in different organisations), at present RCUK has an allocation of £2665.5m while HEFCE has £1573.3m for QR. This puts QR at roughly 60% of the RCUK allocation. Fixing this in advance so that QR is always relative to the total allocation would make it impossible to transfer budget from QR into RC allocations, thereby alleviating many of the fears in the sector about QR being an “easy target”. This should be subject to periodic review but should also be determined on a historical basis, not using a single year’s figure.