Paul Nurse published his review of the UK research councils on 19 November, available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/nurse-review-of-research-councils-recommendations.
Key points to note:
He recommends the establishment of a new body to oversee research -- Research UK, "evolving out of" RCUK, and against the merger of the individual research councils. Governance should include representation from government, HEFCE, Innovate UK as well as the research councils.
Its functions would include:
- engaging with government on behalf of the research councils
- formulation of the overall research strategy for the UK
- cross-council strategy, including best practice in research funding
- managing cross-cutting funds for multi- and inter-disciplinary research
- development and maintenance of research data management systems
- taking on some shared admin / business support on behalf of the councils
He states that the individual research councils should concentrate on providing “high quality strategic leadership to their research communities” (pg 19) in the shape of international quality peer review; speeding up grant assessments; improving reporting systems; ensuring diversity and strengthening links with their research communities.
He says that the dual system of research funding should be maintained and that government should set up a ministerial committee to coordinate strategic research priorities across government.
He argues strongly for the retention of ring fencing for the science budget.