Autumn Statement 2011

29 November 2011

Commenting on the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group of leading universities, said: 

“The Government’s £500m investment in science projects is a step in the right direction if we are to think and work our way back to sustainable economic growth. 

“The UK cannot afford to stand still while our competitors charge ahead. Investing in cutting-edge research is even more important in times of economic uncertainty, and research-intensive universities are the engines of future UK growth. Groundbreaking university research has resulted in far-reaching benefits which have been shared by businesses, government, and taxpayers.  The Government has an important role to play in ensuring that the maximum benefit is gained from present and future research.

“The boost to research council capital investment is welcome, but we must not forget that the world-class research and teaching infrastructure in universities is also essential to future economic growth – cuts to capital spend indicated in last year’s spending review will create serious difficulties for UK universities.

“Government efforts to support R&D in the private sector – through tax credits and other initiatives – are also welcome. Early-stage high-tech firms must be cultivated to exploit their full potential.

“Thousands of leading businesses make Russell Group universities their partner of choice. With the right investment, our universities can help develop pioneering products from conception to commercialisation. We look forward to developing business-university links even further.

“We hope that the Government’s Innovation and Research Strategy will address concerns about postgraduate access to loans and adopt the Russell Group proposal for a bank loan scheme for postgraduates. If postgraduates in crucial fields do not receive the support and recognition they deserve, we risk squandering the talent of some of our brightest graduates.”

Notes to editors

  1. The Russell Group’s report on the economic impact of research at leading universities can be viewed here.
  2. The Russell Group provided an overview of private finance options in its second submission to the Browne Review, and we have suggested that the Government consider the applicability of these, and any other private finance options, for providing support to postgraduate students.

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