Triennial Review supports stability for research councils

17 April 2014

The Institute of Physics (IOP) welcomes the publication of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ (BIS) Triennial Review of the UK’s seven Research Councils.

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As one of the stakeholders consulted on the structure and performance of the research councils, the IOP highlighted the importance of the Research Councils’ collective role in sustaining public funded research in the UK and emphasised the importance of stability and continuity in their funding to the health of the science base.

Dr Frances Saunders, President of the IOP, said, “I welcome the Review’s conclusion that the Research Councils should be retained in their current form.  In our submission to the Review, we emphasised the benefits of maintaining the status quo.  

“Continuing to invest in scientific research is key to the future of the UK and its economy, enabling significant contributions to be made to its gross domestic product, improving the quality of life of its people, and allowing it to respond to global challenges and opportunities.

“We are also particularly encouraged that the research councils will be reviewing opportunities for interdisciplinary research, looking to resolve the concern that some research areas fall between the remit of individual councils and are therefore overlooked. Some of the most interesting new opportunities can arise in these boundary areas.”

On the possibility of merging research councils as a way to tackle such issues, the IOP’s submission reads, “We can see no compelling need for any of the research councils to be merged at this point in time, particularly as it is difficult to see how changing the current structure could improve upon the UK’s ability to plan and deliver world-class science and engineering research.”

The IOP is pleased to note that the Triennial Review has come to very similar conclusions.

Recognising the strong case for publicly-funded research, the importance of allowing the research communities to set their own priorities and the costs associated with any kind of restructure, the Review reads, “We therefore concluded that the Research Councils should be retained in their current form. This conclusion was accepted by the Minister for Universities and Science and the Minister for the Cabinet Office.”

The full Triennial Review can be read here.

IOP’s submission to the Review can be read here.

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