Wednesday, 14 October 2009

'This Calls for Immediate...Discussion'

At the same conference Gerry Lawson reported on the Alexander Review of Full Economic Costs (fEC). Introduced in 2005, fEC was intended to make university research sustainable. However, there were now concerns that the system had become overly complicated, and evidence that funds were not increasing sustainability in universities.
Amongst the findings of the review, Lawson noted:
  • that there had been an 8% pa increase in Research Council funding in real terms since fEC was introduced;

  • that success rates were down, but it was unclear if fEC was a factor in this;

  • that 50% of universities thought the number and type of application had not changed. Most of the others thought they now submitted 'fewer but better';

  • that there was little monitoring of over-commitment of staff to RCUK projects;

  • that investigator time on proposals initially halved after the introduction of fEC, but had now returned to pre-fEC levels.
The Alexander Review is recommending - you guessed it - a working group to discuss the better use of funds towards sustainability. Reminds me of the 'Life of Brian': 'Right! This calls for immediate...discussion.'

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