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Independent report will advise on shake-up of research grant system

22nd March 2021 about a 2 minute read
“Unnecessary bureaucracy diverts and hampers research, and the work of individual researchers and research teams, and diminishes returns from research funding". Prime Minister Boris Johnson

The Government is launching a review to tackle unnecessary bureaucracy facing those engaged in research.

The Minister for Science, Research and Innovation has commissioned Professor Adam Tickell, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sussex, to lead the review. 

His report will advise on how to cut bureaucracy in government and the wider sector, so researchers can focus on research. 

The review will identify the reasons behind growth in research bureaucracy in recent years. 

It will also consider effective funding models, processes and infrastructure, to support the UK research environment to be more dynamic, diverse and transparent.

Part of its remit will be to look at spending by government and research organisations on administering the grant system, ensuring it is proportionate and value for money.

It is hoped the review can achieve a significant reduction in unnecessary reporting and monitoring systems in institutions and the wider system.

This review and its recommendations will support the goals of the government’s Research and Development Roadmap published in July 2020. 

The aim is to reduce bureaucracy “not move it to another part of the system”.

Focus on higher education

The review will focus primarily on higher education institutions and research organisations. Research undertaken by businesses, beyond university-business R&D, will be outside the scope of the review.

Recommendations will build on initiatives already underway by funding bodies and research organisations, including UK Research and Innovation’s ‘Reforming Our Business’ programme, and will inform the forthcoming review of the Research Excellence Framework.

Interim findings should be published in autumn 2021, with the final report due by early 2022.

Professor Tickell will report to the Minister for Science, Research and Innovation, and be supported by a Challenge Panel with representatives from across the research system.

In January the Prime Minister said: “Unnecessary bureaucracy diverts and hampers research, and the work of individual researchers and research teams, and diminishes returns from research funding.

“We share the concerns of many in the research community that the balance between individual judgement and formal assurance and monitoring mechanisms has tipped too far in the direction of the latter, with significant bureaucracy now impeding the research process itself.”

Terms of reference of the review are available here