Under the dual support system, the Research Councils provide grants for specific projects and programmes, while the UK’s Funding Councils provide block grant funding to support the research infrastructure and enable institutions to undertake ground-breaking research of their choosing. Such funding also provides the capacity to undertake research commissioned by the private sector, Government Departments, charities, the European Union and other international bodies.
There are four Funding Councils in the UK, supported by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the devolved Departments of Education.
Research Council funds are awarded on the basis of applications made by individual researchers, which are subject to independent, expert peer review. Awards are made on the basis of the research potential and are irrespective of geographical location.
Funding Council support for research (Quality Related or QR funding) is distributed on the basis of the excellence of individual departments in higher education institutions, using the results of the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE).