As many disability researchers in the UK rely on the research councils for funding we thought it would be useful to share the following developments.
RCUK (Research Councils UK) recently announced their funding allocations for 2011-12 to 2014-15. These are published on the RCUK website together with the delivery plans of each of the Research Councils. The ESRC budget will decline from £174,637,000 in 2011-12 to £166,186,000 in 2014-15. Along with the EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council), the ESRC received the largest percentage cut of 2.6%. As part of the settlement negotiated with the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, the ESRC has been involved in the shaping of its plans in line with government objectives.
Highlights of the ESRC delivery plan are as follows (our emphasis):
- It will seek to more thoroughly embed the impact agenda for the co-production of research with third parties, especially in the private sector and public policy through its pathways to impact strategy
- Strategic funding will be concentrated on three ESRC priorities – Economic Performance and Sustainable Growth, Influencing Behaviour and Informing Interventions, and A Vibrant and Fair Society. A greater proportion of funding will be directed at these three priorities and it is expected some funding that remains within the responsive mode will also go to projects in these three areas.
- Small grants scheme will be closed and resources concentrated on longer, larger grants, with the minimum threshold for these grants set at £200,000.
- Postdoctoral fellowships and mid-career development fellowships will be abolished and replaced with a new ‘Future Leaders’ grant scheme. This will provide grants of up to two years and will be open to applicants within 6 years of their PhD. It is expected there will be 50-80 new grants per year.
- Overall number of doctoral scholarships will be reduced from around 750 to 600. There will be no studentship competition, all PhD studentships will be assigned as quotas to Doctoral Training Centres. The majority of the studentships will be assigned to strategic areas. These include the three priority areas for interdisciplinary research as well as priority disciplines such as Economics, Management and Business Studies, Language based Area Studies, Behavioural and Macro-Economics, and Quantitative Social Science.
- ESRC will continue to support cross-council themes linking them to the three priority areas. These themes are: Global Uncertainties, Living with Environmental Change, Ageing: Lifelong Health and Wellbeing, Digital Economy, Energy, Global Food Security – to find out more on these themes click here