Global Challenges Research Fund

We provide funding from the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) to support research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries. In 2018-19 we will distribute £58 million from the GCRF to English universities in receipt of quality-related (QR) funding.

The GCRF is a £1.5 billion fund that forms part of the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment. The GCRF is administered by a number of delivery partners, including the four UK funding bodies, the Research Councils and the four national academies.


What is the funding for?

The UK’s ODA commitment is monitored by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation (OECD) and QR GCRF allocations must be spent according to ODA principles. These state that only research directly and primarily of benefit to the problems of developing countries may be counted as ODA. Activity funded through QR GCRF must promote the economic development and welfare of developing countries as its main objective, any benefit to the UK or other developed countries must be the secondary consideration.

QR GCRF activity must also comply with ODA guidelines by working with, and supporting development within, countries and territories on the Development Assistance Committee’s (DAC) list of ODA recipients. Universities should endeavour to create equitable partnerships between researchers, practitioners and policy-makers in both developed and developing countries through QR GCRF-funded activities.

Further information on GCRF, and the terms and conditions of Research England QR GCRF grant, can be found below.

Funding method

QR GCRF is allocated to universities in proportion to their mainstream QR allocations, including London weighting. GCRF is allocated across all units of assessment (UOAs). Only institutions who have provided QR GCRF three-year institutional strategies that have been assessed as ODA compliant will receive QR GCRF allocations for the three years from 2018-19.


To support the government’s requirement to report to the OECD on ODA activity, institutions in receipt of QR GCRF will be monitored annually. HEIs should be able to account that the QR GCRF allocation has been spent on eligible activity.




To receive Quality Related (QR) Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) allocations from 2018-19 all Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are required to produce three-year institutional QR GCRF strategies. These strategies outline how HEIs will spend their QR GCRF allocations for the three years from 2018-19 to ensure Official Development Assistance (ODA) compliance and to encourage a coherent and ambitious focus for development-related research activity within institutions.

Commended strategies

Research England has commended ten institutional QR GCRF strategies for best practice. These strategies have been commended not only for their full embrace of ODA principles, but also for their clear strategic focus and for how development-related research activity has been embedded within the institution’s wider strategy and activities. The commended strategies demonstrate that there is no single way to achieve best practice in ODA compliance or in development-related research, but show that universities can use their existing strengths and partnerships to develop innovative strategies for GCRF activity.

Research England has decided to commend these strategies to encourage other HEIs to adopt best practice in their own GCRF activity and to acknowledge the excellence and effort demonstrated by those who have been commended.

The following universities have been commended for their institutional QR GCRF strategies. Their strategies are available to download at the bottom of this page.

  • Falmouth University (PDF)
    The strategy’s focus on one country demonstrates that smaller allocations can be utilised effectively and strategically. Falmouth also have a clear approach to the GCRF that is part of the university's current research and educational as well as third sector connections in South Africa. Activity has also been clearly mapped to specific and relevant UN SDG's.
  • Institute of Cancer Research (PDF)
    ICR’s strategy is very clear and targets specific collaborative projects that are directly relevant and compatible with the GCRF intentions and eligibility requirements.
  • King's College London (PDF)
    KCL’s strategy shows how large allocations covering a large range of activities and projects can be used effectively and strategically. It demonstrates how the allocation can support the meeting of full economic costs as well as capacity building through postgraduate research funding, a development partnership fund and sandwich placements.
  • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (PDF)
    This strategy has clear evidence of desire to build and support capacity in local communities and institutions in developing countries. Targeted expertise creates the ability to tackle key issues and problems and develop solutions rapidly. LSHTM’s alumni network and existing partnerships are used to provide a network for discussion and interaction. The strategy also focuses on relevant and timely engagement with current and critical issues.
  • Royal College of Music (PDF)
    This strategy shows that small allocations can be used effectively and strategically by specialist institutions. The spirit of co-development with developing countries is specifically referred to in the strategy and RCM demonstrate effective effort to build on existing collaborations.
  • Royal Holloway, University of London (PDF)
    This strategy correctly and clearly places the developing countries specified as prime beneficiaries with appropriate amount of emphasis on administration. The strategy also clearly identifies where RHUL will strengthen its own practices to best deliver GCRF impact and aims to integrate GCRF into long-term research priorities.
  • University of Bristol (PDF)
    This strategy demonstrates clear benefit to developing countries. Bristol have also created a set of criteria to ensure that the intent of each project is correctly aligned with GCRF principles, and the strategy demonstrates imaginative ways to create long-term capacity and capability.
  • University of Exeter (PDF)
    Exeter’s strategy is very clear and very well presented. In particular, it includes illustrative Research Awards Eligible for meeting the full economic cost of research, demonstrating that detail and specific information can be provided prospectively.
  • University of Leicester (PDF)
    The strategy correctly and clearly places the developing countries specified as prime beneficiaries with appropriate emphasis on administration. It also refers to Leicester’s own Theory of Change in delivering and evaluating impact. The strategy clearly states that Leicester will deprioritise FEC funding if less funding is available in future, showing good risk mitigation.
  • University of Lincoln (PDF)
    This is a very clear and concise strategy with clearly identified specific projects directly helping recipient countries. The strategy is also clearly linked to the University of Lincoln's overall institutional strategy.

2018-2021 institutional QR GCRF strategies

107 HEIs submitted three-year institutional QR GCRF strategies that have been approved as ODA compliant in 2018. which can be downloaded.

Anglia Ruskin University (PDF)

Arts University Bournemouth (PDF)

Aston University (PDF)

Bath Spa University (PDF)

Birkbeck College (PDF)

Birmingham City University (PDF)

Bournemouth University (PDF)

Brunel University (PDF)

Buckinghamshire New University (PDF)

Canterbury Christ Church University (PDF)

City University of London (PDF)

Courtauld Institute of Art (PDF)

Coventry University (PDF)

Cranfield University (PDF)

De Montfort University (PDF)

Edge Hill University (PDF)

Falmouth University (PDF)

Goldsmiths University (PDF)

Guildhall School of Music and Drama (PDF)

Harper Adams University (PDF)

Imperial College London (PDF)

Institute of Cancer Research (PDF)

Keele University (PDF)

King's College London (PDF)

Kingston University (PDF)

Leeds Beckett University (PDF)

Liverpool Hope University (PDF)

Liverpool John Moores University (PDF)

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (PDF)

London Business School (PDF)

London School of Economics (PDF)

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (PDF)

London South Bank University (PDF)

Loughborough University (PDF)

Manchester Metropolitan University (PDF)

Northumbria University (PDF)

Norwich University of the Arts (PDF)

Nottingham Trent University (PDF)

Oxford Brookes University (PDF)

Queen Mary University of London (PDF)

Roehampton University (PDF)

Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (PDF)

Royal College of Art (PDF)

Royal College of Music (PDF)

Royal Holloway University (PDF)

Royal Veterinary College (PDF)

School of Oriental and African Studies (PDF)

Sheffield Hallam University (PDF)

Southampton Solent University (PDF)

St George's University of London (PDF)

St Mary's University of Twickenham (PDF)

Staffordshire University (PDF)

Teesside University (PDF)

The Open University (PDF)

University College London (PDF)

University of Bath (PDF)

University of Bedfordshire (PDF)

University of Birmingham (PDF)

University of Bolton (PDF)

University of Bradford (PDF)

University of Brighton (PDF)

University of Bristol (PDF)

University of Cambridge (PDF)

University of Central Lancashire (PDF)

University of Chester (PDF)

University of Chichester (PDF)

University of Cumbria (PDF)

University of Derby (PDF)

University of Durham (PDF)

University of East Anglia (PDF)

University of East London (PDF)

University of Essex (PDF)

University of Exeter (PDF)

University of Gloucestershire (PDF)

University of Greenwich (PDF)

University of Hertfordshire (PDF)

University of Huddersfield (PDF)

University of Hull (PDF)

University of Kent (PDF)

University of Lancaster (PDF)

University of Leeds (PDF)

University of Leicester (PDF)

University of Lincoln (PDF)

University of Liverpool (PDF)

University of Manchester (PDF)

University of Newcastle Upon Tyne (PDF)

University of Northampton (PDF)

University of Nottingham (PDF)

University of Oxford (PDF)

University of Plymouth (PDF)

University of Portsmouth (PDF)

University of Reading (PDF)

University of Salford (PDF)

University of Sheffield (PDF)

University of Southampton (PDF)

University of Sunderland (PDF)

University of Surrey (PDF)

University of Sussex (PDF)

University of the Arts London (PDF)

University of the West of England (PDF)

University of Warwick (PDF)

University of Westminster (PDF)

University of Winchester (PDF)

University of Wolverhampton (PDF)

University of Worcester (PDF)

University of York (PDF)

Writtle University College (PDF)