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Universities Wales

Unis Wales response to the publication of the Welsh government’s written statement on Professor Graeme Reid’s review of government funded research

In response to the Welsh Government’s publication  of Professor Graeme Reid’s review of Government-funded research and innovation in Wales, Professor Julie Lydon, Chair of Universities Wales and Vice Chancellor of the University of South Wales said:

“We are delighted to welcome the publication of Professor Graeme Reid’s review of Government-funded research and innovation and are pleased that the recommendations have been agreed in principle. Research and innovation are key drivers of growth and productivity, the benefits of which are felt by people across Wales and we commend the Welsh Government for having commissioned this work.

“We face a time of unprecedented change including the UK’s exit from the European Union and the impact of artificial intelligence and automation on the Welsh workforce. These changes bring both challenges and opportunities, and research and innovation is a vital part of ensuring Wales is ready to meet these challenges and make the most of these opportunities.

“Welsh research and development spending continues to lag behind the UK and EU averages, standing at 1.2% of GVA, which is less than Scotland and England. Our universities are a key part of growing the research landscape, currently accounting for 43% of the Welsh research base, and are well placed to bring together partners such as businesses across Wales to make the most of research and innovation opportunities.

“Given these challenges and the role played internationally by Professor Reid and members of his panel, it is crucial that we listen to their advice and move to take forward these recommendations on such areas as quality research funding and the delivery of the full package of student and higher education funding proposed previously by Sir Ian Diamond.”

 

Ian Price, Director of CBI Wales said “Research and innovation are fundamental to economic prosperity in Wales. It was prudent of Welsh Government to commission Prof Reid’s Review at a time when there are enormous opportunities for businesses in Wales to become more productive and grow quickly, for example through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. It is more important than ever to make Wales an even more attractive destination for investors, and so we support the Reid Review’s recommendation for Welsh Government to increase the visibility, coherence and impact of Research and Innovation in Wales, across the UK and the world, alongside vital increased investment in research and innovation.”

ENDS

 

Notes

1. Universities Wales (Unis Wales) represents the interests of universities in Wales, and is a National Council of Universities UK. Unis Wales’s membership encompasses the Vice Chancellors of all the universities in Wales, and the Director of the Open University in Wales.

2. CBI Wales is part of the UK’s premier business organisation, providing a voice for firms at a regional, national and international level to policymakers, helping business create a more prosperous society.

3. The review of Government-funded Research and Innovation in Wales was led by Professor Graeme Reid, Chair of Science and Research Policy at University College London and formerly Head of Research Funding at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills at the UK Government.

4. Welsh universities have the highest percentage of ‘world leading’ research in terms of its impact of any part of the UK[1]

5. Research and innovation activity is widely understood to be a key driver of economic growth. This can be seen through the economic impact of Wales’ universities which generated over £5billion of output in 2015/16[2] .

6. Yet spending on research and development in Wales lags behind the UK and EU averages. Spending in Wales currently stands at 1.2% of GVA, which is less than Scotland (1.7%) and England (2%)[3] .

7. Universities provide a larger proportion of research activity in Wales than elsewhere in the UK. Universities accounted for 43% of research and development expenditure in Wales in 2016[4], this is compared to the UK-wide picture where universities account for 24% of research expenditure. As such, universities play a proportionally more important role in Wales’ economic growth than elsewhere in the UK.

8. The Reid Review states quality research (QR) funding should be the highest priority in Welsh funding for science, research and innovation funding in Wales.

9. QR funding is a key feature of the research and innovation funding landscape which provides universities with a stable funding stream which can be used to support the bedrock of research infrastructure and enables universities to secure competitive research funding from outside Wales..

10. QR funding allows universities to: a. Meet the cost of entering financial partnerships with other organisations b. Accept research grants from funders that do not meet the full economic costs of research. Such funders include research councils and the EU. c. Nurture researchers at the early stages of their careers. d. Provide stable careers for leading researchers e. Support frontier research

11. Of the total QR funding spent in the UK, 3.9% is spent in Wales, less than Wales’ population share of 4.8%. For comparison, 13.7% of QR funding in the UK is spent in Scotland which has a population share of 8.3%. Wales.

12. There is a correlation between QR funding and drawing down research income from external sources such as research councils. For example, Wales’ QR funding accounts for 3.9% of the UK’s total QR funding and Wales draws down 3.6% of total research council funding, Scotland’s QR funding accounts for 13.7% of the UK’s total and Scotland draws down 14.7% of the UK’s total research council funding.

 

[1] https://www.learnedsociety.wales/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/REF15186-Times-HigherPublication-Online-PDF.pdf [2] http://www.uniswales.ac.uk/new-report-launched-the-economic-impact-of-higher-education-inwales-2/ [3] https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/governmentpublicsectorandtaxes/researchanddevelopmentexpenditur e/bulletins/ukgrossdomesticexpenditureonresearchanddevelopment/2015 [4] https://statswales.gov.wales/Catalogue/Business-Economy-and-LabourMarket/Businesses/Research-and-Development/researchanddevelopmentexpenditureinwales-byexpendituretype-year