Tuesday 30 June 2020

All staff email

Covid-19 update Tuesday 30 June - research support announcement

Dear colleagues,

You may have read over the weekend the Government research support package, outlining some financial mitigations for the university sector.

The announcement is certainly encouraging and shows recognition by the Government of the vital role that research will play in the post-Covid economic and societal renewal and recovery. This is welcome support and will help protect and fund critical research. This is very much reflected in the initial statements by UUK and the Russell Group.

Many of the details of the package are unclear and we have been told that it may be some weeks before they are, including how much funding will be available to individual universities, and the extent of the savings measures the government expects us to make as part of the package. So we await with interest the detailed information that will follow about how this funding will help us here at York.

In headline terms, we know that some funding will be made available to support current research projects funded through UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) and the National Academies that have been disrupted by Covid-19. UKRI will be contacting universities with further information on this in due course. It is not likely to cover the full costs of disruption. As soon as we have details, the Research Contingency Group and colleagues in Finance will advise how we can access this support.

The wider support package also acknowledges the potential income losses caused by the anticipated decline in international students, which impacts on how universities are able to support research. Support will be given mainly through low-interest loans, which will need to be repaid in the next ten years. We need to understand more about the rules of this support and how we would apply for it, and again will need to wait for further details to be published.

As we digest the details of this announcement over the coming weeks, colleagues are still working immensely hard to maximise student recruitment in the difficult circumstances that face us. It is only when we know what the recruitment figures - especially international student recruitment - look like in September that we will fully understand the scale of financial challenge we face.

In the interim we will continue with our cost containment measures, including our Voluntary Options Programme. We will also be hosting finance webinars in Departments across the University, to enable more of our staff to understand the complexity of how we generate and spend our income.

As always, I am especially keen that these conversations are in the context of our wider strategic ambition and that we do not talk about finance as an end in itself. Money only serves one purpose in a university setting - to facilitate the delivery of our academic mission and our role as a university for public good. Our long term financial sustainability is, however, critical to this mission.

Best wishes


Professor Charlie Jeffery