External evidence - research councils
Information about the Research Councils (including vTRC), international research organisations and other resources.
There are currently seven research councils in the UK, each of which is a non-departmental public body (NDPB) established under the Science and Technology Act 1965 by Royal Charter.
The Research Councils fund and manage scientific research and training with the aim of improving the quality of life for citizens as well as contributing to the economic competitiveness of the UK. The fact that the councils were established by Royal Charter means that their research priorities are not dictated by political agendas. The councils are also involved in knowledge transfer and raising public awareness of science and its benefits.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has statutory control of the Councils, supported by the Director General for Science and Research (DGSR), Professor Adrian Smith. The councils receive the majority of their funding from the Government Science Budget which is allocated by DIUS. The amount allocated to each council is determined by recommendations by the DGSR. It is also the DGSR’s responsibility to ensure the successful and high-quality operation of the research council in pursuit of their missions.
The research councils are:
- Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
- Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
- Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
- Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
- Medical Research Council (MRC)
- Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC)
- Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
On 1 April 2007, Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) and Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Council (CCLRC) merged to form the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).
Further information about the Research Councils and their activities can be found on the Research Councils UK (RCUK) website.