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Exeter has seen a sharp increase in the amount of research funding it receives from Research Councils UK (RCUK), according to a new report.

Exeter secures significant rise in research funding

The University of Exeter has seen a sharp increase in the amount of research funding it receives from Research Councils UK (RCUK), continuing its upward trajectory over recent years.

Exeter received more than £33 million in research awards from the Research Councils in 2016-17, almost trebling the £12m in funding it received just two years ago, according to analysis published in the Times Higher Education (THE) journal.

The THE gives the success rate for funding applications for Exeter at 30% - greater than the University of Oxford, UCL, the University of Leeds and the University of Manchester.

In total, the University secured 63 research funding awards totalling £33,338,642 in 2016/17, more than received by 10 universities in the Russell Group including Kings College London, Warwick and Durham.

According to the Times Higher, funding offered to universities and research institutions from all the research councils measured was almost £1.3 billion in 2016/17, the first time it has increased in five years and £175 million more than the last funding cycle.

Exeter success resulted in a rise to 12th place in the overall league table, ranking the value of RCUK research awards, up from 29th position in 2014/15 and 15th last year.

Drs Astrid Wissenburg, Director of Research, said: “These latest figures reflect and recognise the breadth of expertise at Exeter, across all our disciplines, and are a tribute to the world-leading standard of research being conducted at the University.

“Research Council funding is highly competitive, and is given to only the very best research projects across the country. Exeter’s success not only enables us to continue to carry out pioneering research on an array of important topics, but also reflects the collaborative and supportive approach we promote with our academics, at every stage of their research careers.”

Key awards underpinning this result for 2016/17 include the £3.2 million EPSRC project 'VSIMULATORS: Human factors simulation facility for motion and serviceability in the built environment, secured by Professor James Brownjohn from the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences. The project will research the impact of vibrations from very tall buildings and wobbly bridges and floors on people’s health and wellbeing, using a state-of-the-art simulation facility.

Exeter also received £1.3 million from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) for its South West Partnership for Environmental & Economic Prosperity (SWEEP) project, led by Professor Ian Bateman and designed to help protect the beautiful natural resources and the jobs dependent on them in the South West.

Dr Dan Bebber received almost £1million from the BBSRC for the project Securing the future of the UK’s favourite fruit – which will see biologists and economists working together to develop solutions to save banana crops from disease and help retailers cope with the impact of increased costs.

Dr Simon Rennie, from the English department also secured £167,000 from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) for his project The Poetry of the Lancashire Cotton Famine (1861-65). The study is uncovering moving poetry in now forgotten Lancashire regional dialects, recording the heartbreak of poverty and famine caused by the cotton famine of 1861 to 1865 - a direct result of the American Civil War.

Exeter’s continued success in securing research funding comes as a major new study revealed the University injects more than £1.17bn into the economy, and creates almost 11,000 jobs in the South West region.

An analysis of the economic impact of Exeter University found that in 2015-16 it injected £540 million (output) into the economy of the city of Exeter alone, helping to create more than 5,300 jobs in the city. The report, called the Economic Impact of the University of Exeter, concluded that “the University of Exeter is of major importance to both the local and the wider regional economy.”

Date: 20 November 2017

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