UK funding for business and management research "in decline"

Business schools increasingly reliant on EU and other international sources, reveals new report

Funding from UK sources for business and management research in higher education has declined by 25% in real terms over the last six years, with international sources increasingly plugging the gap, the Chartered Association of Business Schools’ annual report on research income, has revealed. 

The report, based on the latest Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) data, shows that the funding contribution from all UK sources has decreased from over three quarters (78%) in 2011/12 to two thirds (66%) in 2016/17. Conversely, the funding contribution from all EU sources has increased from 19% in 2011/12 to 27% in 2016/17. Non-EU international sources have risen from 3% in 2011/12 to 7% in 2016/17.

In particular, UK central government bodies which represented 27% of total funding in 2011/12 have declined to 21% in 2016/17. In contrast, income from EU government bodies has increased from 17% in 2011/12 to almost a quarter (23%) in 2016/17. In three of the last four years, business and management received more funding from EU government bodies than from the UK central government. In 2016/17, the EU was only marginally behind the research councils as the largest contributor. 

At £45.3m, research income for business and management from UK sources is now £9m less than in 2011/12. Income from EU and non-EU sources for business and management is now £18.2m and £4.9m respectively, compared to £13.4m and £2m in 2011/12. 

The UK Government has committed to replacing any lost research income for STEM research caused by Brexit but has not made any such commitment for business and management

“The increasing reliance of the business and management sector on research funding from the EU is very concerning in light of Brexit,” said Anne Kiem, Chief Executive, Chartered ABS. 

“From our previous research, nearly half (44%) of business schools expect to lose research funding from EU sources in the next 12 months, and presently it is not clear how this funding gap will be filled once the UK leaves the EU.”

In the period 2011/12 to 2016/17, total research income for higher education institutions (HEIs) overall increased by nearly a third (30%) from £4.5 billion to £5.9 billion. Since 2011/12, HEIs have seen increases of 24% from UK central government, 28% from research councils and 23% from UK industry.  STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) subjects received an average increase in research funding from UK and international sources of 36% between 2011/12 and 2016/17, whereas business and management saw a fall of 1%.  

Kiem added: “The UK Government has committed to replacing any lost research income for STEM research caused by Brexit but has not made any such commitment for business and management. It is vital for the UK’s economic productivity drive that an inter-disciplinary approach be taken wherever possible, so that business and management can work with other fields to ensure that innovations developed through research result in commercially viable products and services.”