Each of the Research Councils is established under the Science and Technology Act 1965, as a body incorporated by Royal Charter. The Royal Charter is the legal document which sets out the role and mission of each Council.
For Government accounting purposes, the Research Council's are classified as Non-Departmental Public Bodies. NDPBs are organisations which have a role in the processes of national government, but they are not part of a government department and are governed by legislation which enables them to operate to a greater or lesser extent at arm’s length from Ministers. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has statutory control of the Councils, supported by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Each Research Council has a governing body called its "Council". The Council body is responsible for setting each Research Councils’ policy, strategy and priorities. It is also accountable for the stewardship of the Council’s budget and the extent to which objectives have been delivered and targets have been met. Council members are appointed by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), who is answerable to Parliament for the Councils’ activities.
The full time Chief Executive is the Councils’ most senior officer. They are appointed to provide leadership both in relation to scientific research and in the direction and management of the Council.
Each Research Council has its own structure of high-level of advisory boards and groups to identify opportunities for research, training and knowledge transfer and to provide external advice on the development of strategies and policies. General information on the organisation of each Council and how it operates can be viewed here:
Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
Medical Research Council (MRC)
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
Each Council body typically has between 15 and 18 members drawn from the Council’s academic, business and user communities. Membership is balanced to provide expertise across a range of research disciplines and commercial and user interests. A register of declared interests is maintained.
Appointments to the Research Councils are made by Secretary of State for Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in accordance with the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ “Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies”. This can be found on the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments website.
The Research Councils each publish an Annual Report which provides information on each Research Council's activities during the previous financial year.
As charged under the Science and Technology Act 1965, each Annual Report is published and laid before Parliament annually.
Please follow the links below to each of the Research Council's Annual Report and Accounts.
The Research Councils comply with government-wide corporate general guidance documents and instructions. Information on these can be found here.