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CaSE responds to the Nurse Review

19 Nov 2015

Sir Paul Nurse has today published his independent review of the UK Research Councils

The review was requested by the Government following the publication of the Science and Innovation Strategy in 2014.

Commenting on the Nurse Review, CaSE Acting Director Naomi Weir said:

“It is great to see the Review focuses recommendations on strengthening strategic join-up across disciplines and Government departments, rather than wasting precious resources rearranging the furniture.

Some key questions remain which will be answered as the detail emerges in coming months. How will the dual support system be maintained in practice when both components are under one roof? Will strategic oversight at a cabinet level risk ministerial micro-management of research investment and make the Haldane principle history? Or will it drive better join up across government R&D making their budgets greater than the sum of their parts?

What is abundantly clear though, is that benefits from enacting the recommendations made today will be stymied without adequate funding for the Research Councils, or indeed R-UK. I therefore look forward to the 25th to hear George Osborne deliver on his promise to ‘give science the funding it needs for the long-term’.”

Headline recommendations from the Nurse Review:

Create a new body called Research UK (RUK) as an arm’s length Non-Departmental Public Body, run by a Chief Executive with budgetary control and accountability for spend on science and research.

  • The seven existing councils will sit under RUK and maintain their individual scientific and research focus and provide high quality strategic leadership to their research communities
  • RUK to lead strategy and delivery of multi-disciplinary funding, including a new fund to be set up for interdisciplinary research
  • RUK to have research funding responsibilities currently with HEFCE, but maintain the dual support mechanism
  • RUK would have a view of UK research strengths from mapping the science and innovation landscape
  • The review is less clear on rolling Innovate UK into R-UK saying it could be beneficial but recognises different focus and users.

Pilot an approach allowing Public Sector Research Establishments to become eligible for Research Council funding if in collaboration with a university

Create a Ministerial Committee, or reformed Council for Science and Technology to ‘put science at heart of government’


  • The best research should be funded wherever it is found.
  • Necessity of patience, persistence and long-term investment from funders
  • Research funding decisions should be made by those best placed to judge the research
  • The ring fence should continue

Read CaSE’s submission to the Nurse Review from April 2015 in our publications library.