Higher education research in an independent Scotland

Our vision for the future of university research in an independent Scotland.


British Council: the UK's international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations.

Common Research Area: ensures no barriers to collaborative research and access to facilities for researchers throughout the UK. It allows world-class researchers across the UK jurisdictions to collaborate to the benefit of all across a wide range of disciplines without the prospect of collaborative projects having to be peer reviewed twice in different jurisdictions and to be successful in both to be funded.

Dual Support System: funding system for university research comprising block grants given by the funding council of each UK country (funded from devolved budgets) and; competitively awarded grants from the UK-wide Research Councils (funded through the UK tax base).

European Research Area ( ERA): formed in 2000, the European Research Area ( ERA) is a system of scientific research programmes integrating the scientific resources of the European Union ( EU).

Global Excellence Initiative: a two year initiative funded by the Scottish Funding Council to help further boost Scottish output of world-leading research and the international reputation and standing of Scotland's universities.

Haldane Principle: describes the principle that decisions about what to spend research funds on should be made by researchers rather than politicians. It is named after Richard Burdon Haldane, who in 1904 and from 1909-18 chaired committees and commissions which recommended this policy.

Horizon 2020: the EU's new programme for research and innovation. Horizon 2020 runs from 2014-20 and has a budget of just over €70 billion.

Innovation Centres: collaborations between universities, businesses, enterprise agencies, the Scottish Funding Council and others to enhance innovation in and across Scotland's key economic sectors. Innovation Centres will have significant economic impact.

Innovation Scotland: the umbrella name for the movement, involving Scottish Funding Council , universities, enterprise agencies and others, to improve and simplify the experience of Scottish businesses who work with Scotland's universities to develop and exploit innovative ideas.

Interface: a national programme which match-makes businesses with research resources in our universities and research centres.

QS World University Rankings (QS Rankings): annual university rankings published by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) which provides overall rankings as well as ranking for individual subjects.

Research Pools: created by the Scottish Funding Council to enable leading researchers across Scotland's universities to pool their resources and maximise their contribution to research excellence through collaboration.

Research Assessment Exercise ( RAE): a system for ranking research on the basis of its originality, significance and rigour. Forms the current basis for allocation of Research Excellence Grant.

Research Excellence Framework (REF): the new system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions ( HEIs). It replaces the RAE. The first REF exercise will be completed in 2014.

Research Excellence Grant ( REG): block research grant provided by the Scottish Funding Council to universities, currently on the basis of their RAE 2008 results. REF results will determine allocation of REG post-2014.

Research Councils ( RCs): seven publicly funded agencies responsible for co-ordinating and funding particular areas of research from medical and biological sciences to astronomy, physics, chemistry and engineering, social sciences, economics, environmental sciences and the arts and humanities.

The seven are:

  • Arts and Humanities Research Council
  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
  • Economic and Social Research Council
  • Medical Research Council
  • Natural Environmental Research Council
  • Science and Facilities Research Council

Research Councils UK ( RCUK): the strategic partnership of the UK's seven Research Councils.

Scottish Funding Council ( SFC): is the public body that distributes funding from the Scottish Government to the country's colleges and universities. It was set up by the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Act 2005, and was established on 3 October 2005 when the Scottish Further Education Funding Council and the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council merged.

Spin-outs: new, small, companies formed to exploit Intellectual Property developed during the course of an individual's employment in a larger organisation - often a university.

Technology Strategy Board ( TSB): UK public body operating at arm's length from the UK Government reporting to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills ( BIS). Its aim is to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation.

Times Higher Education World University Rankings ( THE Rankings): global university performance tables that judge world-class universities across their core missions of teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.


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