An internal document from the UK Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills obtained by the Guardian indicates that business secretary Sajid Javid is seeking to simplify the department and cut costs by some 30 percent to 40 percent.
Over the summer, George Osborne, the chancellor of the exchequer, asked each unprotected Whitehall department to model cuts of between 25 percent and 40 percent, the Guardian adds. And this document suggests, the University of Sussex's James Wilsdon writes at the Guardian, Javid is seeker cuts at the deeper edge of that range.
While Wilsdon says the proposed cuts, consolidation of BIS locations, and a reduction in partner organizations aren't surprising suggestions, as they follow a review by consultants from McKinsey. But, he adds that "there is scant reassurance in the 'BIS 2020' plan for universities and researchers."
Reducing partner organizations by more than half will lead to turmoil in the funding system he says, especially as the futures of the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the Research Excellence Framework are uncertain.
"[W]e are faced with the prospect of five more years of flat cash (or perhaps worse), accompanied by massive upheaval in the structure of the funding system," he says. "There is no hard evidence to support these changes, nor has there been any serious attempt to justify the benefits in terms of efficiency, outcomes or performance."
This, Wilsdon notes, will be shaped by the November spending review, and an implementation plan is expected in January.