Research sustainability

We are working with partners and stakeholders to build awareness of the complexity of the UK’s research funding system and understand the financial pressures on the research and innovation landscape.

Financial sustainability of research in universities

Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) is a UK-wide activity-based costing system. It is designed to collect consistent, periodic and high-quality data on the costs of higher education research, teaching and other activities at universities.

A review of TRAC was undertaken by KPMG in response to a government request as part of a wider review of bureaucratic burden. The review focused on understanding and evaluating the burdens associated with the TRAC system.

The review identified:

  • areas where burden could be reduced
  • where we could make better use of data
  • the need to better communicate the purpose, importance and needs of TRAC.

Read further information about the review, including the report and recommendations, on the OfS website.

The Financial Sustainability of Research Group (FSRG)

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is working with the research community to understand how research funding flows through the UK research and innovation system. To support this, we have reconvened a sector-led group that can provide us with independent and evidence-based advice.

The FSRG will meet three times a year to discuss strategic policy issues, such as:

  • the financial sustainability of research
  • efficiency of funding flows
  • the changing, diverse funding environment.

It will work closely with the Regulators and Funders Group and the TRAC development group to ensure that analysis, advice or policy recommendations across these groups is complementary.

FSRG will be responsible for helping UKRI to:

  • better understand how research funding flows through the UK research and innovation system, how it interacts with other funding sources, and the consequences for research sustainability of the funding framework and resulting incentives
  • support institutions that undertake research activity to understand their income and cost relationships, manage financial sustainability and enable efficiency.

FSRG is chaired by Professor Mark Smith (OfS website), University of Southampton, and includes members of the former Financial Sustainability Strategy Group whose expertise relates to research:

  • Harriet Barnes, Director of Policy and Funding, HEFCW
  • Bryony Butland, Programme Director, Research Sustainability and Infrastructure, UKRI
  • Morag Campbell, Assistant Director, Research and Innovation, SFC
  • Paul Drabwell, Deputy Director, HE Research, Knowledge Exchange and Place, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
  • Neville Ford, Pro-Vice Chancellor, University of Chester
  • Michael Leonard, Higher Education Research and Knowledge Exchange Branch, DfENI
  • Jeremy Lindley, Chair of the Russell Group Finance Directors Group
  • Andrew McConnell, Former Director of Finance, University of Huddersfield
  • Sarah Randall Paley, Chair, BUFDG and Director of Finance, University of Lancaster
  • Bob Rabone, Treasurer at the National Council for Universities and Business (formerly Chief Financial Officer, University of Sheffield)
  • Daniel Shah, Director, Investment Strategy and System Insight, UKRI
  • Nolan Smith, Director of Resources and Finance, OfS
  • Mark Smith, President and Vice Chancellor, University of Southampton
  • Professor Robert Van de Noort, Vice-Chancellor and the Chief Executive of the University of Reading
  • Daniel Wake, Policy Manager, Universities UK.

In early 2022, UKRI will recruit additional members to FSRG to build professional expertise across finance, estates, research administration and university leadership.

Sustainability of research in UKRI’s institutes

UKRI has a large and growing portfolio of strategically important institutes. Our research and innovation activities span the breadth of our scientific remit.

We are working in partnership to:

  • raise the profile of our institutes and the research they undertake
  • demonstrate the importance of their missions and purposes, and the integral role they play in the wider national research and innovation landscape
  • build a robust evidence base from which to assess research sustainability.

Last updated: 21 February 2022

This is the integrated website of the seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK.
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