The United Kingdom Research Councils – of which there are seven, are publicly funded agencies responsible for co-ordinating and funding particular areas of research, including the arts, humanities, all areas of science and engineering.
They have five main functions, which are to:
- fund basic, strategic and applied research
- support postgraduate training (PhDs and masters students and fellows)
- advance knowledge and technology and provide services and trained scientists and engineers to contribute to the economic competitiveness, the effectiveness of public services and policy, and quality of life
- support science in society activities
- provide access for UK researchers to large research facilities, which it achieves either by owning them and operating them or through international subscriptions to major facilities such as the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory
A formal (but non-statutory) cross-council secretariat, known as Research Councils UK (RCUK) undertakes activities that cross the remits of all the councils, such as creation of a joint electronic grant application process, development of improved impact assessment procedures, and a common international strategy.
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