The latest edition of Times Higher Education reports how universities in the UK are turning down research funding from medical charities because of a lack of government financial support. Although the grant covers research costs it does not cover overheads. But it is not just UK universities or medical research in which this is happening. Travelling around various conferences this summer, a persistent talking point was the shortage of funding. In education and training and technology enhanced learning, one result is that few people are any longer employed on permanent contracts and many are getting by on part time contracts. One of the knock on effects of this is that more and more time is being spent chasing grant money from national or EU programmes. But noone s being paid to write bids, so this time consuming and often frustrating work is being done in researchers own time. And of course with more and more organisations chasing a reduced pool of funding the competition is increasingly fierce. Ten years ago most universities did not even apply for Lifelong Learning programme grants because this was not considered to be research. Now such is demand for its successor programme, Erasmus Plus, that the threshold for success seems to be to achieve 90 per cent or higher in the evaluation.
Yet at the same time, government policies harp on about the importance of research to innovation. But without proper funding it will become increasingly difficult to attract researchers, let alone undertake good research