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Northern universities risk funding cuts as ratings slip

Posted on: Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

Universities in major cities across the north are risking funding cuts due to slips in academic research rankings, it has been revealed.

Results published as part of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) found that institutions such as Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Liverpool may face job cuts and a drop in donations after the league table saw them all drop down the list.

However, the analysis, which assesses the quality of research in the UK, also revealed that some of the more established universities such as Oxford, came top in the research category again.

Furthermore, University College London (UCL), moved  into second place ahead of Cambridge, since the last league was released by the Higher Education Funding Council for England in 2008.

Commenting about the results, William Cullerne Bown, founder and executive chairman of Research Fortnight, said: "The biggest losers are Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Birmingham, and Leeds. The north is taking a hammering. Oxbridge wins. London wins bigger. Almost everyone else in England loses."

Although on the whole, the research conducted within British universities is improving, northern universities have generally fared poorly – with Manchester slipping from fourth to fifth, Leeds from eighth to tenth, Sheffield from ninth to 12th and Liverpool from 18th to 22nd.

The results are particularly important for higher education institutions as they are used to allocating research funding of around £2 billion a year over the next year.

In the past, unfavourable results from the league table has led to researchers being laid off.

David Sweeney, research head at the Higher Education Funding Council for England said in an interview published by the Independent: "If the UK is to be world-leading in the sphere of research, universities have to be at the heart of that. Across the northern universities, fewer folk have been submitted – there’s less research going on.”