In response to the recommendations of the
review into Full Economic Costing (fEC) published on 29th April 2009 a Task Group was established in November 2009 by Research Councils UK (RCUK) and Universities UK (UUK) to make practical proposals on the implementation of specific recommendations within the fEC Review report. The Task Group liaised with the Financial Sustainability Strategy Group and the TRAC Development Group in formulating its recommendations and published its report on 24th June 2010.
The Task Group, while recognising the strengths of the UK HEIs, has considered how to ensure financial sustainability of the HE sector and how to encourage HEIs to implement economies and efficiency improvements appropriate to the current financial climate. In undertaking this it has borne in mind that any new requirements should be commensurate with the benefits and not at variance with the principle of autonomy of institutions.
The report contains four recommendations related to the financial sustainability of the HE sector highlighting the roles of the Research Base Funders Forum, HEI governing bodies, the Funding Councils, the Research Councils and the Research Excellence Framework.
In addition there are ten recommendations related to the efficiency and effectiveness of the sector covering areas including the Research Councils and Funding Councils policies on research selectivity and concentration; utilisation of HEI assets (sharing of equipment and facilities); analysis of year-on-year changes in annual TRAC returns; proposals for controlling and reducing HEIs’ indirect costs; and the current VAT regulations on the development of shared services.
The Research Councils are currently considering how to respond to this report and how best to implement the proposed recommendations. The Higher Education funding bodies are also considering the recommendations in the report and further information about the funders’ responses to the report will be available in the autumn.