The RCUK mission is to optimise the ways that Research Councils work together to deliver their goals, to enhance the overall performance and impact of UK research, training and knowledge transfer and to be recognised by academia, business and government for excellence in research sponsorship.
The overall aim of RCUK is for the Research Councils to be recognised as the benchmark around the world in terms of the impact they have and the ways they work.
Leadership of RCUK is provided by the Research Councils’ chief executives, working together through the forum of the RCUK Strategic Executive.
RCUK activities are delivered across the Councils through three mechanisms: joint Council business units, cross-Research Council groups, joint Research Council projects and day-to-day collaboration between Council staff.
RCUK’s priorities for joint working between the Research Councils are set out in the RCUK Delivery Plan.
RCUK is not a legal entity and its existence does not alter the governance of the individual Research Councils or the accountability of their chief executives, who remain directly and personally accountable for the guardianship of public funds. These accountabilities are not exercised through RCUK.
Under the RCUK umbrella, the Research Councils proactively seek to work together where there is benefit to their academic communities, government and other stakeholders in doing so. This approach enables each Council to determine its own level of participation in joint activities and secure the benefits of closer collaboration with other Councils whilst remaining flexible and responsive to the needs of their own subject communities. This model recognises that one size does not fit all and facilitates harmonisation of policies and services, by speeding convergence on a bilateral or trilateral basis. Externally, this model enables Research Councils to present policies and information coherently, but allows for different views and opinions to be expressed by different Councils.
Although RCUK is a non-executive partnership, it adopts current good practice of all public bodies. This includes compliance with codes of practice and legislation on risk management, Freedom of Information, data protection and a proactive approach to publishing information about RCUK's activities, services, policies and performance.