In this second contribution of the day Lord Bilimoria spoke in the debate over amendment 194. He stresses the importance of research to academics and to universities and concludes that anything that supports research is good for the future of research and universities.

Higher Education and Research Bill

15 March 2017

Moved by Lord Smith:

Debating amendment 194A, Clause 108, page 67, line 26, at end insert—

“( ) Where a decision to be made by the OfS or UKRI relates to—(a) the power to award research degrees; or(b) research students;the OfS and UKRI must make the decision jointly.”

Lord Bilimoria:

My Lords, I support what the noble Lord, Lord Smith, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay, have said.

I shall read out the mission statement for the University of Cambridge, which is very short:

“The mission of the University of Cambridge is to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning, and research at the highest international levels of excellence”.

That came home to me when I was a student there. We finished the last supervision of term in my favourite subject with a brilliant supervisor, and he said, “Have a good holiday. Now I can get on with my real work, which is research”. That is the importance of research to our top academics.

At the University of Birmingham, where I am chancellor, I chaired the annual meeting earlier this month. We announced that Birmingham had won three more Nobel prizes, taking our total to 11, because of our research.

The University of Cambridge Judge Business School, where I chair the advisory board, has in just over a quarter of a century become fifth in the world in the global FT MBA rankings. One of the main reasons for that is the absolute priority placed on research.

Anything we can do to make sure that we have robust support for our research—not just through advice but taking the expertise of UKRI along with that of the OfS, jointly—would be good for the future of research and the excellence of our universities.

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