The Budget 2015

18 March 2015

Commenting on the Budget delivered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer today, Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group, said:

On postgraduate research funding

“The Government’s support for postgraduate research students and the recognition of the vital contribution they make is very welcome.

“British universities face fierce international competition, particularly from US institutions who have the ability to provide high quality facilities along with generous financial packages to attract the best postgraduate research students.

“Attracting the brightest postgraduates from all over the world brings a huge range of benefits to the UK economy and they are critically important for the longer term health of our leading universities. So we welcome new ways of helping our universities to compete effectively for the very best students.

“We would welcome new funding for this vital investment in postgraduate research, and a key way of achieving this could be by incentivising philanthropy or business contributions through match funding schemes.

“The introduction of loans for postgraduate research students is welcome as an additional source of financial support but loans should not replace grants. Additionally, if introduced, we would urge that loans be awarded based on excellence and that a high quality threshold be maintained. We would caution against their being restricted to particular disciplines.”

On research and innovation funding

“We warmly welcome the new money provided for further capital co-investment in university research facilities and the ambition to increase private sector funding.

“World-class infrastructure is vital to facilitate the very best environment for research and teaching, and to enable our institutions to compete effectively with better-resourced institutions internationally.

“We would urge the government to ensure that universities are given a reasonable period of time in which to develop and submit their proposals so that this initiative can support the best opportunities with business.

“The new funding for research and innovation in the major cities of the North and the Midlands is also a welcome investment. Russell Group universities lie at the heart of economic growth in these regions and only with proper support can this continue.

“Investment in cutting-edge research is essential to UK economic growth. Countries across the globe are investing more in their universities to boost innovation and economic growth: it is vital that the UK’s world-class universities can access the resources necessary to remain on top.”

Notes to Editors

  1.     In the budget the Chancellor announced:
  • A review into how the government can strengthen its support for postgraduate research including options to strengthen partnerships and co-funding between government, industry, and charities.
  • The introduction of income-contingent loans of up to £25,000 to support PhDs and research-based masters degrees, in addition to existing funding available.
  • A UK-wide £400m competitive fund for new cutting-edge science facilities, with funding available upto 2020-21.
  • Other investments in research and innovation in UK cities including Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield.
  1. Read the full Budget documents here.
  2. The Russell Group has continually argued for more support for postgraduate research students who are vital to the success of UK research and our universities' international competitiveness. Read more in our contribution to a 2013 CentreForum report on postgraduates.


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