The 2020 Chartered ABS report on research income for UK business schools

Our latest report on research income reveals that total funding for Business & Management has increased marginally for the second consecutive year but continues to rely heavily on EU and other international sources and has significantly lower growth than other fields such as STEM.

Total research income increased by 1% to £73.5m, which is 15% higher than five years ago and 11% higher than ten years ago. When adjusting for inflation, however, income is only 2% higher than in 2013/14 and is 18% lower than in 2008/09. In real-terms the rate of increase in funding for Business & Management research has lagged several STEM and Social Science subjects over the last five years.

The report uses the latest data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) and this year’s edition has been expanded to include a comparison with research funding 10 years ago, enabling UK business schools to benchmark their funding levels over a longer period. This year’s report also contains a more detailed breakdown of funding from the UK research councils.

The 1% growth in research funding for Business & Management compared to 2017/18 is accounted for by increases from the UK research councils (+8%) and EU government bodies (+12%), which helped to offset falls in funding from UK-based charities (-36%) and non-EU ‘other’ sources (-22%).

The UK business school sector is increasingly reliant on non-UK sources for research income and the EU’s share of research funding for Business & Management is now at an all-time high of 27%, up from a 13% share in 2008/09. Income from non-EU sources has also steadily risen over the last 10 years and accounted for 7% of the total in 2018/19. Over the last 10 years the share of research income received from UK sources has fallen from 86% to 66%. Research funding for Business & Management from the UK government has declined in real-terms, with UK business schools receiving 33% less in 2018/19 than 10 years ago. In contrast, across all academic fields funding from the UK government grew in real-terms by 9% over the same period.

The Chair of the Chartered ABS, Professor Robert MacIntosh, commented; “Funding for business and management research hangs in the balance whilst the UK’s negotiations to participate in EU programmes remain ongoing and this is even more important as our universities prepare for a significant drop in income from student fees as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Business school research in areas from public health management, financial and economic modelling, to supply chain management, business recovery, and new working practices, can and should play a vital role in our economic recovery and in shaping our post-COVID-19 society."

"This government has already given a welcome commitment to double its investment in R&D but in and of itself this will not address the very small proportion of that investment which currently flows to the vital research conducted in business schools. The post-COVID challenge and our adjustment to a new normal will best be addressed by combining world class scientific and technological research with social and economic insights to enable sustainable economic recovery.”

The report also highlights the disproportionate funding Business & Management Studies receives given the population of business school academics is the second highest in UK universities. Business and management research received 3.5% of total grants authorised by the ESRC for 2016/17 to 2018/19, yet 8% of all academic staff are employed in the Business & Management cost centre.

The report contains analysis on research funding by regions, mission groups and schools, including 5 year and 10 year comparisons.

Download the 2020 Research Income Report here