Nurse review of the research councils – key messages:

sir paul nurseSir Paul Nurse published his review of the UK research councils on 19 November. The full report is available here: Ensuring a Successful Research Endeavour: Review of the UK Research Councils by Paul Nurse. This follows close on the heels of the HE Green Paper (see this blog post for an overview), which stated that it would take the finding of the Nurse review into account alongside feedback received to the consultation.

The key messages of the Nurse review are:

Nurse strongly argues against the merger of the seven research councils.

Instead he recommends the establishment of a new body to oversee research – Research UK, “evolving out of” RCUK. Governance should include representation from government, HEFCE, Innovate UK as well as the research councils.

It’s functions world include:

  1. – engaging with government on behalf of the research councils
  2. – formulation of the overall research strategy for the UK
  3. – cross-council strategy, including best practice in research funding
  4. – managing cross-cutting funds for multi- and inter-disciplinary research
  5. – development and maintenance of research data management systems
  6. – taking on some shared admin / business support on behalf of the councils

The individual research councils should concentrate on providing “high quality strategic leadership to their research communities” in the shape of international quality peer review; speeding up grant assessments; improving reporting systems; ensuring diversity and strengthening links with their research communities.

The dual support system of research funding should be maintained and government should set up a ministerial committee to coordinate strategic research priorities across government.

He argues strongly for the retention of ring fencing for the science budget.