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July 2006/25
Policy development
Report on survey

This report is for information

Higher education-business and community interaction survey


This report analyses the results of the 2005 higher education-business and community interaction survey for UK higher education institutions. It is the fifth annual survey of its kind. This year, for the first time, data by institution are available on our web-site.

To: Heads of publicly-funded higher education institutions in the UK
Of interest to those responsible for: Links with business and the community, Research, Continuing vocational education, Funding, Planning
Reference: 2006/25
Publication date: July 2006
Enquiries to: Adrian Day
tel 0117 931 7428

Contents and executive summary (read on-line)


Main text and annexes D-G
[ MS Word 825K | Zipped Word 527K | Adobe PDF 352K | Zipped PDF 547K ]

Annex A   Full data by region and nation
[ MS Excel 415K | Zipped MS Excel 114K ]

Annex B   Questionnaire part A
[ MS Word 264K | Zipped Word 88K | Adobe PDF 302K | Zipped PDF 229K ]

Annex C   Questionnaire part B
[ MS Excel 59K | Zipped MS Excel 17K |

Annex H   Full data by institution
[ MS Excel 966K | Zipped MS Excel 203K ]


  • Executive summary
  • Background
  • Outcomes and results
  • Next steps
  • Analysis
    • Strategy
    • Infrastructure
    • Research-based interactions and intellectual property exploitation
    • Social, community and cultural activities
    • Regeneration
    • Education and CPD


  • Annex A    Full data by region and nation
  • Annex B    Questionnaire part A (strategic/qualitative questions)
  • Annex C    Questionnaire part B (numeric/financial questions)
  • Annex D    International comparisons, IP-related
  • Annex E    List of abbreviations
  • Annex F    HE-BCI Stakeholders group
  • Annex G    List of respondents
  • Annex H    Full data by institution

Executive summary


1.   The higher education-business and community interaction (HE-BCI) survey is in its fifth year and has become one of the most important sources of information on knowledge exchange in the UK, both within and without the higher education (HE) sector. Data reported here provide invaluable intelligence for knowledge exchange practitioners and policy-makers alike. The report also provides an in-depth commentary on the volume and direction of knowledge exchange activity in the UK.

2.   This report builds on previously published HE-BCI surveys, the most recent of which was launched in January 2005 (HEFCE 2005/07). All financial and output data are for academic year 2003-04; data reported under capacity and infrastructure are a snapshot of the position at 9 August 2005.

3.    HE-BCI covers a range of activities: from the commercialisation of new knowledge, through the delivery of professional training, consultancy and services, to activities intended to have direct social benefits. 'Business' in this context refers to both public and private sector partners of all sizes and sectors, with which higher education institutions (HEIs) have a broad spectrum of interactions. 'Community' in this context is taken to mean society as a whole outside the HEI, including all social, civic and cultural organisations and individuals.

4.    The HE-BCI survey is carried out:

  • to provide data regarding the continuing development and range of interactions between the HE sector and business and the wider community
  • to provide reliable and relevant information to support the continued public funding of the third stream of HEIs' activity
  • to give HEIs a consistent basis for benchmarking and information management
  • to develop a suite of indicators at the level of the individual HEI, some of which will be appropriate to inform allocations in the UK.

Key points

5.    The fifth annual HE-BCI survey builds on the success of previous reports while taking a step forward in use and availability of data. Data have, for the first time, been used to directly inform funding decisions (in England) as well as being available at the level of individual HEI (data are shown in Annex H above).

6.    The survey is split into two parts to streamline the data collection process and minimise burden on all parties. Part A of the survey primarily focuses on strategic aims and levels of infrastructure development in the HEI. These data are less time-bound than, for example, financial income; therefore we have provided an online database for HEIs to update as and when required by developments in strategy or infrastructure. Data on the aggregated development and capacity of HEIs are a valuable source of benchmarking information for HEIs, and provide us with evidence for policy development and our submission to the Comprehensive Spending Reviews.

7.    Part B of the questionnaire centres on numeric and financial outputs (in this case for academic year 2003-04) such as income from knowledge transfer activities and the number of external business partners/clients. Part B provides most of the indicators that may be used to allocate funding to HEIs.

8.    The general message of this report is one of increased outputs and more advanced third stream strategy in the UK HE sector. For selected indicators it is now possible to draw longer time-series and track the progress of outputs across four years. The indicators in Table 1 show constant improvement across a number of third stream activities. While not all HEIs are active in all areas it is encouraging to note that the sector has been successful in developing a broad range of activities that contribute to the economy and society including the exploitation of new knowledge under collaborative research projects, innovative application of existing knowledge and good practice in regeneration programmes and the training of individuals working in the knowledge economy.

9.    The report also highlights the UK HE sector's continued relative success in forming new companies from third stream activity compared with institutions in the US, although UK HEIs generate proportionally less licence income.

10.    The 2003-04 data also include more detailed information from HEIs on their social, community and cultural activities. The volume of staff time committed to free and chargeable public events and number of attendees have been collected to supplement data on income from non-commercial organisations. Initial data show substantial amounts of activity including over 10,000 academic staff days providing free public lectures for over 400,000 attendees.

11.    The HE-BCI stakeholders group is committed to further embedding the HE-BCI survey as the primary means of capturing the volume of outputs associated with HEIs' knowledge exchange activity in the UK. The process is under constant review to ensure that the administrative burden on all parties does not outweigh the survey's usefulness and, to this end, we intend to improve the guidance and definitions that accompany the questionnaire in advance of the next survey cycle to collect data from academic year 2004-05.

Table 1   Selected indicators 2000-01 to 2003-04

Number of disclosures2,1592,4782,7103,029
Consultancy income (M in real terms*) 112129172211
Collaborative research income (M in real terms*)447495491541
A required contracting system for all staff-business consulting activities (% of UK HEIs)60%65%66%68%
An enquiry point for SMEs (% of UK HEIs)83% 85%89%90%
Regeneration income (M in real terms*)129134150216
Facilities and equipment related services income (M in real terms*)28536880
HEIs providing short bespoke courses on companies' premises62%67%78%80%
HEIs providing distance learning for business52%52%66%66%
* All figures have been adjusted to 2003-04 prices

Action required

10.    This report is for information.