Stern Review of research funding

16 December 2015

Commenting on the launch of the review of the Research Excellence Framework by Lord Stern of Brentford, Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group, said:

“The Research Excellence Framework (REF) recognises and rewards the very highest levels of research in the UK and has been a driving force behind the international success of our leading research intensive universities.

“Our recent report Engines of Growth highlighted how world-class research from Russell Group universities has profound impacts on wider society – on our economy, our health, our culture life and environment.

“Long-term curiosity-driven research produces the biggest pay-offs in the end so it’s vital that the REF continues to support long-term investment.

“While we are encouraged by Lord Stern’s intention to create a less ‘overly burdensome’ REF, we would be concerned if this resulted in any dilution of its rigour and international reputation.

“The REF should be based primarily on peer review complemented where appropriate by metrics, and needs to be light-touch, whilst being sufficiently robust to be credible with the academic community and to drive excellence.

“We look forward to contributing to Lord Stern’s review to continue supporting our world-class research.” 

Notes to Editors

  1. Our latest report Engines of Growth: the impact of research at Russell Group universitiesand accompanying film highlight how research from Russell Group universities generates billions of pounds in returns to the UK economy, has an impressive impact on the health and quality of life of the nation and contributes to our rich cultural life and heritage. From an initial sample of 240 research impact case studies:
  • 48 gave data on economic benefits totalling £21 billion in the six years from 2008 to 2014 – a return of £100 for every £1 on investment
  • The average time from initial research to first impacts was 8 years, ranging from less than on year to almost 30.
  • 89% of case studies had ongoing impact.

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