At the Conservative party conference earlier this week, UK chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne pledged £200 million of new money to the Research Partnership Investment Fund (RPIF) which supports university capital projects, bringing the fund’s total to £300 million of public money.
The RPIF, administered by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce), is designed to fund capital projects but is only awarded to universities if they secure double that funding from industry. The first £100 million was heavily oversubscribed and bids that can now be funded, thanks to this extra capital, will be announced by Hefce next week, on 15 October.In a statement, Sir Alan Langlands, Hefce’s chief executive, said: ‘Today’s announcement highlights the vital role that UK universities and colleges play in world-leading research and innovation. The ultimate beneficiary will be UK plc, as higher education continues to make a significant contribution to economic development and growth.’ However, while the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) welcomed the extra funding, it also stressed that this extra funding does not offset the cuts in science spending made in 2010. ‘Osborne is doing the right thing in reversing some of those cuts, but we need to go much further or risk getting left behind by our international competitors,’ said CaSE director Imran Kahn.