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Building a better research system? Supporting excellence in post-Nurse structures


The national Academies are hosting a series of four Policy Lab events considering the landscape for UK research and innovation after the 2015 Spending Review. This event explored how the UK’s research excellence can be maintained and improved, as the structures that govern and fund it undergo a period of significant change. 

The outcomes of the 2015 Spending Review were broadly positive for UK research and innovation. However, significant changes are on the horizon for the research and innovation landscape, including: implementation of the Nurse Review recommendations and possible changes to higher education, as proposed in the Higher Education green paper. 

UK research is world leading, but is entering a period of uncertainty and change. The Nurse Review recommended changes to the architecture of the UK research system, including the creation of a new umbrella body, Research UK. This would sit above the existing Research Councils, with Innovate UK possibly integrated into it, as well as the research funding of HEFCE. These changes might open up new opportunities for UK research to excel, but can the system’s efficiency and excellence be preserved throughout?

Which principles have underpinned the success of the current system? How can these be preserved as the architecture changes? Where is UK research weaker, and how can new structures support it to improve? How can changes be implemented in a way that minimises disruption while a new system develops? How can the opportunities for greater collaboration and cross-disciplinary research be realised? 

Professor Graeme Reid, Professor of Science and Research Policy at University College London, chaired a panel of speakers including:

  • Sir Paul Nurse FRS FMedSci – Director, The Francis Crick Institute and author of the Nurse Review of the Research Councils
  • Professor Jackie Hunter CBE – former Chief Executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
  • Professor Philippa Saunders FMedSci – Director of Postgraduate Research at the University of Edinburgh and member of the Academy of Medical Sciences working group for the ‘Team Science’ project.
  • Professor Sir Ian Diamond FBA FRSE FAcSS, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen and former Chief Executive of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

You can read a blog post about this event on In Verba.

Follow the discussion:#AcademiesAfterSR

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