Opinion Leadership

Flora’s April roundup

Learn more about our two key priorities: supporting the financial sustainability of our business schools and celebrating 10 years of the Small Business Charter.

11th April 2024

Research and Funding

Business and management research has an impact across business and society. Research carried out by UK business schools:

  • Helps leverage and commercialise the UK's science and technology assets

  • Provides solutions to improve productivity and competitiveness

  • Informs policy and the improvement of services for a fairer and inclusive society

  • Has proven impact on innovation, entrepreneurship and SMEs

  • Can help deliver regional levelling-up and economic growth

The Chartered ABS's interactive dashboard of the 504 Impact Case Studies submitted by business schools to REF 2021 illustrates the breadth and depth of business and management research. 62% of the case studies had a societal impact, 20% had an economic impact, and the remainder were spread across a variety of impact types, including technological, environmental, and health.

Examples of how our members are driving economic growth and delivering societal impact through their research can be viewed here.

Creating the conditions for business & management research to have greater impact

The long-term decline of research funding undertaken by business schools needs to be addressed in order to ensure its impact can continue to be leveraged

  • Compared to ten years ago in 2011/12 research funding for business & management is now 4% lower after adjusting for inflation. In contrast, research funding for all university subjects increased by 21% in real-terms in the last ten years.

The reliance on business schools to fund their own research is at risk due to the financial pressures the university sector is under

  • On average, 43% of UK business schools’ annual research budgets are funded by the institution itself. Furthermore, as most UK research grants only cover 80% FEC the university must provide match funding which is unsustainable. Whilst research funding for UK business schools has increased in recent years it is disproportionately low relative to the size of its research staff and is heavily reliant on EU funding and self-funding.

We welcome rejoining Horizon Europe, however the ERDF should be replaced to ensure research into innovation and the SME ecosystem is funded

  • Our members are very pleased with the UK’s association membership of the Horizon Europe programme and are looking forward to re-engaging with our European research partners. Time will be needed to rebuild the networks which have been eroded and any government support towards this would be welcome, including helping social science researchers gain more representation on the European Research Council.

  • However, our association to Horizon will not include the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) which means a net loss in research funding around SMEs, innovation and technology adoption which has been a strong focus of ERDF grants, some of which have been delivered by our members. We encourage the government consider research funding for innovation and the SME ecosystem as part of its UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF).

Statistics on funding for business & management research

Research funding has increased in recent years but is disproportionately low compared to other fields and heavily reliant on EU funding and self-funding.

  • Business & Management recorded a fifth consecutive all-time high in research funding in 2021/22 (in nominal terms).

  • However, based on the REF 2021, Business & Management receives a very low amount of funding relative to the total research staff working in UK business schools.

  • For the last six consecutive years, Business & Management has received more research funding from EU government bodies than from the UK central government. EU sources accounted for 22% of all funding for UK business schools in 2021/22, although this has declined from a peak of 27% in 2018/19.

  • On average, 43% of UK business schools' annual research budgets are funded by the institution itself (source: Chartered ABS Annual Membership Survey 2022). Furthermore, as most UK research grants only cover 80% of Full Economic Costs, the university must provide match funding, which is unsustainable.

  • Business & Management received only 8% of total grant allocations from the Economic and Social Research Council in 2021/22, despite comprising the largest body of social science research staff based on FTE staff submitted to REF 2021.

Furthermore, funding for Business & Management research is in decline in real-terms: 

  • 4% real-term decline in Business & Management research income, 2012-2022 

  • 2% real-term increase in UK government funding to Business & Management research during 2012-2022, compared to a 17% increase for STEM subjects 

  • Across all sources, the STEM subjects received 23% of all research funding in 2022. In comparison, Business & Management received 1.2% of total research funding, a decrease from the 1.5% received ten years prior

  • Meanwhile UK universities’ overall research income has grown 53% (21% if adjusting for inflation), 2012-2022

  • In 2023, UK business schools were actively engaged in 121 Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) which accounted for 15% of the value of all active KTPs (source: Chartered ABS Research Income Report 2023).

Useful links and resources

Read our latest Research & Analysis

Research & Analysis International

Analysis of international student enrolments in January 2024

Read our analysis of international student enrolments in January 2024 which reveals a decline in the intake of international students.

28th February 2024
Research & Analysis Apprenticeships

Bridging the gap: How business schools are building pathways to success through degree apprenticeships

Explore how business and management apprenticeships provide social mobility and lifelong learning for all ages and for communities with lower participation in higher education.

12th February 2024
Research & Analysis Leadership

Results from the 2023 Chartered ABS Annual Membership Survey

13th November 2023
Research & Analysis Leadership

National Student Survey 2023: Results for Law

4th September 2023
Research & Analysis Learning & Teaching

National Student Survey 2023: Results for Business & Management Studies

17th August 2023