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Mainstream quality-related funding

Mainstream quality-related (QR) research funding (with London-weighting) accounts for £1,098 million of HEFCE’s research grant.

We aim to target funding where research quality is highest, distributing funding on the basis of quality, volume and relative cost of research in different subject areas.

How does the funding method work?

Mainstream QR funding is first separated into three ‘pots’ according to the contribution that the three elements of research assessed in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) make to overall quality profiles (65 per cent for outputs, 20 per cent for impact and 15 per cent for environment).

These pots are then further divided by subject, and finally distributed to institutions. The distribution between subjects and institutions are informed by:

  • the volume of research (based on numbers of submitted research-active staff)
  • the subject cost weights (reflecting, for example, the fact that laboratory-based research is more expensive than library-based research)
  • the quality of research as measured in the REF.

How we take quality into account

The funding allocation is based on the volume of activity assessed as 4* and 3* at a ratio of 4:1.

4* = Quality that is world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour.

3* = Quality that is internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance and rigour.

How we take relative cost into account

The relative cost weights applied are:

Research cost weights
A High-cost laboratory and clinical subjects 1.6
B Intermediate-cost subjects 1.3
C Others 1.0

We also adjust the mainstream quality-related grant allocated for research in geography and psychology. This recognises that around half of the research activity in these disciplines is similar to work in science disciplines, rather than in the other social sciences.

Worked example of the quality-weighted volume used in the 2017-18 mainstream QR funding method

Download the Example quality-weighted volume 2017-18 as MS Excel Spreadsheet (11 KB)

How we take London weighting into account

London weighting is calculated as 12 per cent for inner London and 8 per cent for outer London of the mainstream QR funds for each unit of assessment (UOA).

See details of the mainstream QR allocation method from 2017-18

Page last updated 14 August 2017