Sir Gareth Roberts’ has been a major driving force in the development of UK policy relating to researchers. His influencial report SET for Success has catalysed change in the way researchers are supporting in higher education.
- SET for Success: the supply of people with science, technology, engineering and mathematic skills
- Investing in Innovation: the Government's response to ‘SET for Success' (July 2002)
- Funding and reporting updates from RCUK
- Progress in implementing the Roberts' recommendations
- Roberts' policy fora
Sir Gareth Roberts' SET for Success review published in April 2002 covered the supply of science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills throughout the education system. He made several recommendations relating directly to postgraduate researchers and research staff.
He recommended in Chapter Four that:
- doctoral stipends be increased to average graduate starting salaries after tax
- the length of a doctorate should be increased to an average of 3.5 years
- major funders of postgraduate researchers should make all funding conditional on postgraduate researchers' training meeting stringent minimum standards
- this should include the provision of at least two weeks' dedicated training a year, principally in transferable skills..."
This report has been very influential in encouraging higher education institutions to review their provision of research degree programmes.
The Roberts' report also made recommendations in Chapter Five concerning research staff and research careers:
- there should be funding for academic fellowships
- research staff should be able to have industrial secondments
- research staff should have a clear career development plan and access to appropriate training opportunities
- salaries for research staff should be improved.
Download the summary report.
The government responded positively to Sir Gareth Roberts' report SET for Success, providing funding of just under £150M in the 2002 Spending Review to the research councils to increase stipends, length of doctoral programmes and provide training for their funded researchers. This also included providing improved career prospects for research staff, including the creation of 1000 academic fellowship positions.
Read the Government's full response in Annex A of the 2002 Spending Review.
The following information on Roberts funding was circulated to institutional Roberts' contacts.
‘You may be aware that the RCUK strategy, states that the RCs will maintain funding for skills training throughout the CSR2007 period (from 2008/9 to 2010/11) and that we aim to continue the co-ordinated payments to enable strategic use of the funds by institutions and to facilitate planning. In keeping with our strategic commitment the overall budgets for Roberts' payments in 2007/08 were similar to previous years and the basis for payments much the same (see the question about "How much money will universities receive?" in the RCUK FAQs.
The recently published RCUK delivery plan 2008-2011 includes the commitment to continued innovation in the range and delivery of transferable skills and that this will be supported by a single co-ordinated annual payment of £20M. For 2008/09 it is our intention to maintain the timetable and allocations process of previous years. As ever, payments to any one institution may vary from previous years, as it is based on the numbers of research students funded and research posts announced on grants and these can and do change year-on-year. Also, as in previous years, we will issue information about payment levels to individual organisations as soon as possible, for planning purposes.'
For more information go to RCUK's career development and skills training for researchers.
- RCUK latest letter regarding the level of payments for the coming academic year (July 2007)
- Latest RCUK reporting requirements (July 2007)
- FAQs on Roberts funding and reporting
Each November institutions submit a report to RCUK on progress in implementing the Roberts' recommendations. RCUK produces an annual summary report of sector progress. In 2007 insitutions who had received additional funds from EPSRC for enterprise training also included a report of progress. Other studies have looked at the impact of the Roberts recommendations in relation to researchers.
The Council for Industry and Higher Education STEM Review (March 2007) reviewed progress against recommendations made in "SET for Success" (2002) by Professor Sir Gareth Roberts.
Impact of the Roberts' Review Enhanced Stipends and Salaries for Researchers (February 2006) assessed the impact of enhanced salaries and stipends on the recruitment and retention of postgraduate researchers and research staff in key shortage areas.
Comment on this page.