Interesting poll reported in the THE: Among Members of Parliament, UK Universities are given a poor rating in the ‘value for money’ / ‘efficiency’ category. This no doubt reflects the political hot potato that tuition fees still are, especially with the prospect of them increasing further. No self-regarding politician, a few months prior to an election, wants to suggest that Universities are doing the best they can with the fee income. And no doubt there is waste in the system, although probably less than many think.
Also reflected in these results is that the decision is now close on how to distribute — and indeed also reform — research funding in the light of REF2014. Reality is more clear here. Even the United States, which has a history of concentrated funding, is moving away from this. Any one concerned about ‘value for money’ in research funding need only glance at the REF results. Take Staffordshire University for example. With research funding amounting to a rounding error on that received by some Universities, internationally excellent and world-leading work is being achieved. A denser concentration of research funding into the hands of fewer Universities is certinly not going to improve the ‘bang for the buck’.