From this autumn, research-active universities across the UK that have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic will be able to access long term, low interest loans, supplemented by a small amount of government grants, covering up to 80% of their income losses caused by any actual decline in international students.
Funding will be available to bolster universities taking their own steps to make efficiencies, in line with the rest of the economy, to protect their research bases. In addition, some universities may also be losing funding from charities and businesses, which goes towards vital medical research. According to the government, the package will be made available to fund research and high priority projects, such as medical research, in order to support universities to continue to be at the cutting edge of innovation.
Around £200 million in new government investment will be made immediately available to support researchers’ salaries and other costs such as laboratory equipment and fieldwork. This will allow universities to retain research talent and protect innovative, ground-breaking projects across the country. UK Research & Innovation will also redistribute up to a further £80 million of existing funding to support research and development (R&D) in our universities.
The two support schemes are intended to ensure that universities facing difficult financial decisions, in line with the rest of the economy, can offer job security to up-and-coming researchers and are able to progress their cutting-edge work, such as research into the effects of coronavirus on our wider society, antibiotics resistance, and new tech solutions to tackle plastic waste and climate change.
Commenting Science Minister, Amanda Solloway said, "This package will protect thousands of highly skilled jobs and ensure the UK’s research community continue their vital work to solve some of the most pressing challenges facing our society today, like tackling climate change, unlocking medical discovery and unleashing game-changing new technologies."
Some of the ground-breaking projects benefiting from this investment will include:
- research into antibiotics resistance, ensuring life-saving drugs and treatments remain effective
- the development of innovative new technologies to tackle climate change, including advanced computing and quantum technology
- solutions tackling the waste caused by the manufacture and use of plastics around the world; an
- work to gain a greater understanding of the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on our wider society, such as the impact of lockdown on people’s mental health
In response to the announcement CaSE Executive Director, Dr Sarah Main, welcoming the government's decision, said, ""In a time of significant losses, this package provides welcome protection for research projects and the research workforce by helping universities support their researchers and their partnerships with businesses and charities.
"For UK research to drive the next generation of innovation, it will be important for Government to ensure that the inspiring range of research activity across the private, public and third sector, large and small, is able to recover and flourish. Today's announcement is a good first step and we look forward to working with the government on their roadmap to ensuring the UK becomes a more research-intensive country."