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Institutional framework


Institutional framework




Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)

This department brings together responsibilities for industrial strategy, energy, business, consumption, science, innovation, research and climate change. The work of the department is aimed at ensuring that the UK remains at the leading edge of science, research and innovation.

In particular, with regard to science, research and innovation in higher education, the BEIS department works closely with the Department for Education (DfE).

Over time, the British Parliament has created several commissions working primarily within the scientific and technological advancement fields. In the House of Commons, the lower house, the Science & Technology Committee aims to ensure that decisions taken by the Government receive adequate recommendations in the field of science and engineering. Likewise, the Science and Technology Committee of the House of Lords, the upper house, conducts a multitude of enquiries regarding the scientific-technological sphere.

In 2016, two new bodies were introduced on the basis of the Higher Education and Research Bill: the Office for Students (OfS), which guarantees degree awarding powers and university title to higher education institutions that meet the minimum requirements to enter the industry, and the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), whose main role is to emerge as a strong, unitary voice in representation of the British funding system for research and innovation, facilitating dialogue with the Government and with global partners.

The Research Councils, currently run by the UKRI, are not organizations that are concerned with pursuing scientific research, but they are instead primarily involved in distributing research funds. The funds are distributed by seven Research Councils:

Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC)

Medical Research Council (MRC)

Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)

Science and Technology Facility Council (STFC)

Each year, the Research Councils invest public money for research in the UK in a variety of disciplines, promoting international collaborations and providing access to the best facilities and infrastructure around the world. In addition, they collaborate with other research funders, including InnovateUK, UK Higher Education Funding Councils, businesses, government and charities.