Excellent research programmes must not be strangled by financial pressures of open access, says 1994 Group

The 1994 Group of research-intensive universities has responded to the Government’s announcement today (7 September) that an additional £10m will be allocated to fund the transition for open access: 

Alex Bols, 1994 Group Executive Director, said: 

“In these economically challenging times, we welcome the £10 million additional Government funding to support the transition to open access. This extra Government funding reflects the importance of research to the UK economy, but we are disappointed that it will only be offered to a small number of institutions based on their overall research income.

“Research income is a relatively crude measure reflecting size of institution, and access to lucrative medical research funding streams, rather than a reliable indicator of research productivity. Many smaller research-intensive institutions punch well above their weight in terms of citations and the impact of their research outputs, and yet such institutions will face the greatest challenges in meeting the costs of moving to open access. It is unfortunate that the Government is ignoring the contributions made by of a number of highly-productive institutions with this latest funding announcement. We hope that this is not the first salvo towards further concentration of research funding.

“In the context of increasingly strained research budgets, we remain concerned that curiosity-driven research will be hit and that the health of certain disciplines will suffer in the years to come. Concentrating funding for open access within a narrow range of institutions, rather than supporting excellence where it is found, will not aid the goal of opening up access to the widest possible range of world-class research.

“With open access set to cost the sector up to £60m, this additional funding is a drop in the ocean compared to the overall costs of the initiative. We must ensure that excellent research programmes are not strangled by these financial pressures 

“We are, however, committed to the principles of open access and are keen to work with Government and the Research Councils to ensure that open access policies are sustainable and protect excellence within university research.

“We note that RCUK will announce the details of block allocations to institutions to help with article processing charges (APCs) this autumn, and we are hopeful that their decisions will recognise hard-working researchers across the sector as a whole” 


Media Contact: 

Alex Bols, Executive Director, 1994 Group

0207 872 5598



Notes to Editors:

1.      The Report of the Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings (‘the Finch report) can be found here: http://www.researchinfonet.org/publish/finch/

2.     The Government response to the Finch report can be found here: http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/science/docs/l/12-975-letter-government-response-to-finch-report-research-publications.pdf

3.     The 1994 Group represents 15 of the UK’s leading student-focused research-intensive universities. It was established in 1994 to promote excellence in University research and teaching.

4.     In 10 major subject areas 1994 Group universities are the UK leaders, achieving 1st place in their field (THE RAE subject rankings 2008). 56% of the 1994 Group's research is rated 4* 'world-leading' or 3* 'internationally excellent' (RAE 2008, HEFCE). 

5.     10 of the top 30 universities in the Guardian University Guide 2013 league tables are 1994 Group members. 5 of the top 20 universities in the 2012 Sunday Times University League Table are 1994 Group members. 10 of the top 30 universities in the 2013 Complete University Guide are 1994 Group members. The University of Bath is the Sunday Times University of the year.

6.     The 1994 Group represents: University of Bath, Birkbeck University of London, University of East Anglia, University of Essex, Goldsmiths University of London, Institute of Education University of London, Royal Holloway University of London, Lancaster University, University of Leicester, Loughborough University, University of Reading, University of St Andrews, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of Surrey, University of Sussex.

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