Government Response to the Witty Review

14 March 2014

Commenting on the Government’s Response to the Witty Review of Universities and Growth, Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group of 24 research-intensive universities, said:

“We welcome the Government’s restated commitment to long-term funding of collaborative work between universities and businesses.  Our leading universities already do considerable work with businesses, from local family firms to major multinationals - all of which fuels economic growth.

“There is real potential for Sir Andrew Witty’s ‘Arrow Projects’ to boost the economy but the Government needs to prioritise this work. By using small amounts of new funding to support all stages of innovation - from test tube to technology – the Arrow Projects will help to develop new high-tech industries. But the research from our world-leading universities and extra funding will be crucial to their success. These are exactly the kinds of projects that European Union structural funding and matched funding from business should be used to support.

“Furthermore, increased higher education innovation funding (HEIF), as Sir Andrew proposed, would have helped the small and medium-sized businesses of this country better access the exciting ideas already seeping out of our campuses. As the Government itself admits, HEIF sees a £6.30 return for every £1 spent, and so we would urge the Government to reconsider not increasing this highly-effective stimulus.

“We would strongly caution against increasing the weighting of impact in the REF. Research from our universities has significant, positive impacts on the economy, on society, on the environment and on culture. But impact is difficult to measure and using it to assess university research is still at a very embryonic stage. Often it is long-term, curiosity-driven research which produces the biggest pay-offs in the end, for example, the World Wide Web was an unintended consequence of particle physics research.”

Note to Editors

  1. Read the Government’s Response to Sir Andrew Witty’s Review of Universities and Growth here.

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