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New model for quality-based resource allocation

Today, and on behalf of the Government, Formas, Forte, the Swedish Research Council and Vinnova are presenting a new joint proposal for a new model for quality-based resource allocation of new funding within the direct government grant. The model is based on higher education institutions defining profile areas themselves, which are then assessed by experts before the Government allocates resources.

The proposal relates to quality-based resource allocation of new funding within the ‘direct government appropriation’ to higher education institutions (HEIs) for research and education at third cycle level. The model is intended to replace the current indicator-based resource allocation model as from 2023. Dialogue with representatives of HEIs has been maintained during the work on the model.

The model is based on the Government’s statements in its research policy bill, and means that HEIs, instead of receiving funding based on the indicators of external funding and citations, will apply for funding for strategic profile areas that they themselves define. The model is intended to strengthen the HEIs’ strategic profiling, to increase scientific quality and quality in collaboration with the surrounding society – for the profile areas selected by the HEIs.

The model begins with a start-up phase

The Government’s assessment is that at least 500 million SEK should be allocated using the new model for the years 2023 and 2024. The intention is that this amount will increase over time.

The first year, starting in autumn 2021, should be a start-up phase. Time is needed to give the HEIs the opportunity to identify their profile areas. The research funding bodies also need time to produce more detailed grounds for assessment and assessment criteria in dialogue with the HEIs, and also instructions for the documentation to be included in the application. In addition to this, the research funding bodies also need to start recruiting experts for the quality assessment.

“A model using expert review has good chances of strengthening research and the research profiles of the HEIs, but time is needed to further develop the proposal. We want this work to be done in close collaboration with the HEIs in question. This is absolutely necessary to anchor the model,” says Sven Stafström, Director General of the Swedish Research Council.

Proposed model in brief

It is the individual HEI that defines its own profile area or areas. The profile areas shall be strategic research initiatives of high quality. Both established profile areas and profile area under construction can be included. This means that there will be large variation in the profile areas that the HEIs wish to highlight.

A broad-based international panel of experts will assess the applications, and provide statements and recommendations.

The funding bodies will propose an allocation totalling 5–20 million SEK per year for individual profile areas. An HEI will be able to apply for up to five profile areas in the first instance, depending on the size of the HEI. The proposal also includes a recommendation to evaluate the model after the initial six-year period.

Quality aspects and grounds for assessment

The HEIs and the profiles will be assessed based on three aspects:

  • Strategic profile and preconditions for quality development
  • Scientific quality
  • Quality of collaboration

The quality aspects will be assessed using pre-set grounds for assessment. The four research funding bodies have provided proposals for ground for assessment and assessment criteria at overall level. These need to be developed at more detailed level, in dialogue with the HEIs during the start-up phase.

“Despite the short time we have had to produce the proposal, we believe that the model, if used in the long term, will contribute to increased quality of research. We research funding bodies are looking forward to continuing the work together with the HEIs,” says Sven Stafström, Director General of the Swedish Research Council.

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