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Research Councils UK (RCUK)/Universities UK (UUK) Review of the Impact of Full Economic Costing on the HEI sector

The final fEC report was published on 29 April 2009.

Download the review here PDF, 583KB.

Download the annexes here PDF, 1.95MB.

Download the executive summary here PDF, 203KB.

Read the associated press notice here.

UPDATE - March 2009

The final fEC report has been drafted and sent to Panel Members. The final Panel meeting is on 25 March. Signoff is planned for the 8 April, with publication on the 29 April. Copies of the draft report have been provided to the TRAC Development Group and Financial Sustainability Strategy Group for comment. Professor Alexander discussed preliminary findings with the Chief Scientific Advisors Committee on 10 March.

UPDATE - October 2008

The Panel Meeting on 8th October 2008 agreed to extend the reporting date for the Review to 15th April 2009. This will allow 07/08 financial data to be included in the Review's analysis, together with information from the RCUK QAV Review, the RAE and two European reports on Universitity Sustainability.

Learned societies, charities, Government departments, businesses and individuals are invited to contributed to the open review on http://www.survey.bris.ac.uk/rcuk/fec-other. Closing date for these contributions is 5th December 2008.

A summary of initial responses to the Review was provided to sector Financial Sustainability Strategy Group and is available here DOC, 66KB, together with initial comments on the RCUK QAV Review.

In May 2008 RCUK announced that it would commission a review of the implementation of full economic costs (fEC) for funding university research. The review aims to ensure that the change to full economic costs has put universities on track for delivering long term financial sustainability in research.

The Secretariat is provided jointly by both RCUK and Universities UK, with additional support from the Funding Councils for Higher Education in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, DIUS and Cancer Research UK. The Review Panel is chaired by Professor Alan Alexander, Commissioner on the Accounts Commission for Scotland and a member of Council of the Economic and Social Research Council.

The reform of dual support was announced by the Government in the Science and Innovation Framework 2004-2014. The Government sought to move university research to a sustainable basis, and indicated that Research Councils would fund 80 per cent of the full economic costs of research from April 2006, with the intention to move to paying close to 100 per cent of the full economic costs of projects by the beginning of the next decade, taking full account of capital funding streams. Other sponsors of research, including business and Government Departments were also expected to meet the full costs of research they commissioned, depending on the extent to which the research provided a public good.

A review after two years of implementation of fEC was planned as early as 2005. The review will establish how well fEC is meeting its objectives and to assess its impact on research institutions and users. It will enable RCUK and UUK to provide Government with the data needed to judge the achievements of the science and innovation investment framework.

The review is seeking input from a wide range of stakeholder groups, and report to RCUK Executive Group in mid-January 2008. The issues that the review will address are:

  • the extent to which the policy objectives relating to sustainability of the science base have been delivered by the introduction of funding based on fEC;

  • how the additional funding resulting from both fEC and associated changes have been utilised by universities;

  • the operation of fEC arrangements in HEIs, Research Councils and other funders;

  • the impact of fEC on interactions with key stakeholders, notably industry, government departments and charities.

The Review's terms of reference are:

  • To review the impact of the revised funding arrangements for research on the sustainability of research in Higher Education Institutions;

  • To advise on changes that would enhance the delivery of sustainability;

  • To consider, and propose if necessary, changes in the operation of full economic costs in the funding of research;

  • To report to the Research Councils UK Executive Group and Universities UK by January 2008.

The review will draw on three sources of statistical data:

  1. sustainability metrics produced by the Funding Councils for the Research Funders Forum,
  2. data collected by Research Councils from grant proposals before and after the introduction of fEC,
  3. data collected during 2008 by RCUK on the implementation of TRAC by HEIs.

A detailed survey of opinion on the impact of fEC was sent to Higher Education Institutes in July. Government Departments, Charities, and members of CBI-ICARG Companies have been given specific invitations to contribute.

An on-line questionnaire is open to the above contributors, and other interested parties at: http://www.survey.bris.ac.uk/rcuk/fec-other


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