The review for the UK's research councils, led by Sir Paul Nurse published on 19th November, comes ahead of the government’s spending review on 25th November.
The report recognises the current UK research funding system as key to delivering one of the most effective research communities in the world. The evidence given as part of the review highlights the Research Councils’ reputation for effectively supporting and promoting research excellence for the benefit of society and the economy.
The report recommends bringing the research councils closer together under a new and stronger body, Research UK, whose head would be in charge of all seven councils.
The review does however leave unanswered important questions about the possible future arrangements of the research councils within the new body Research UK. A primary concern is, it is still not clear how funds will be allocated within Research UK and via the dual support system going forwards.
Responding to the review, Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said: "Our research base is world-class and this government is committed to ensuring its continued success. I welcome this independent report and would like to thank Sir Paul for providing his expertise and insight." Source: BIS website 19th November 2015
On the dual support system of funding research through competitive grants and via quality-related funding of universities, the review says that “there is an argument for incorporating [the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s] research functions including the REF within Research UK, although its functions and budgets should be kept distinct from those of the Research Councils”. But the report adds that the “dual support system should be preserved”.