One of the aims of RCUK is to optimise the ways in which the Research Councils can work together to enhance their overall performance to provide better and more efficient services. This is important because:
- Increasingly, researchers wish to undertake new research which cuts across Council remits. Councils need to be able to assess and fund these proposals effectively.
- Councils want to minimise the administrative burden on universities and research institutions.
- Councils are funded by the tax payer and have a duty to use this money efficiently.
- Government has set targets for all public sector bodies to improve their efficiency. For Research Councils this is about ensuring that Councils improve their efficiency to release more money to fund research, postgraduate training and knowledge exchange.
Research Councils have been working together successfully for many years, funding joint research programmes and units such as the UK Research Office in Brussels. Internally too, Research Councils have a good track record of delivering joint services such as internal audit, recruitment and procurement.
In 2010 RCUK and UUK published a joint report of a Task Group led by Sir William Wakeham. The report Financial Sustainability and Efficiency in Full Economic Costing of Research in UK Higher Education Institutions made a number of recommendations relating to the need for the research base to continue making progress in the efficiency of its operations.
The Government's 2011-15 Spending Review reinforced commitments from Research Councils to drive efficiency in their research funding, including asset utilisation, international subscriptions and their administration.
The RCUK report Efficiency 2011-15: Ensuring Excellence with Impact, detailing the plans for implementing efficiency savings in research funding and capital utilisation is available here.