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Mainstream QR research funding

We distribute the majority of our funds for research on the basis of research quality, and take into account the volume and relative cost of research in different areas.

Note on QR data

Annual quality-related (QR) funding data is now available in our Data and statistics section.

Alternatively the same data is available under 'Funds for research' with the rest of our annual funding allocations.

First we work out how much funding to provide for research in different subjects. We then divide the total for each subject between institutions.

These calculations take into account:

  • the quality of research, measured in the Research Assessment Exercise
  • the volume of research using research-active staff numbers
  • relative costs, reflecting, for example, that laboratory-based research is more expensive than library-based research

Research cost weights


High-cost laboratory and clinical subjects



Intermediate-cost subjects





  • any government policy priorities for particular subjects

To assess the quality of research for funding purposes, we and the other UK funding bodies run a periodic assessment exercise. Until 2008 this assessment was called the Research Assessment Exercise, and from 2014 it will be called the Research Excellence Framework.

Beyond our main funding method, we also allocate funds for other research-related costs. These include:

  • funding for the supervision of postgraduate research students 
  • extra funding to help charities support universities and colleges to conduct research sponsored by charities
  • funds to support research that higher education institutions carry out with business and industry.

Why this method? Autonomy and flexibility

Our method for calculating research funding enables a degree of research stability and independence not provided by other funding sources, and ensures that universities:

  • drive innovation and respond flexibly to changing needs as autonomous institutions
  • invest in new and emerging areas
  • grow and support new talent and protect important research areas.

The flexibility of this funding provides universities with the resources to:

  • support the cutting edge of knowledge
  • sustain responsive research
  • sustain a world-class research environment
  • develop people and skills.

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