Circular Letter

June 2019


Equality Impact Assessment for Research England Quality-related Research (QR) and formula-based research capital funding: plans and sector engagement

Dear Vice-Chancellor or Principal

  1. This letter sets out our intention to carry out an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) for Research England’s Quality-related Research (QR) and formula-based research capital funding allocated to English higher education institutions (HEIs). It also sets out our intention to seek input from HEIs and other stakeholders in the development of the EIA.


  1. Driving improvement in equality, diversity and inclusion is an important part of the Research England mission to create and sustain conditions for a healthy and dynamic research and knowledge exchange system in English universities. Equality, diversity and inclusion is vital for its own sake, and there is a wealth of evidence showing that more diverse communities are more effective.
  2. In 2018, when it was first formed as a council within UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), Research England set out its principles and approach to equality, diversity and inclusion. The Research England Council agreed that as part of its approach, Research England should continue to undertake equality impact assessments of its functions and policy, and where appropriate to act upon the findings of the assessments.
  3. As part of our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, Research England is undertaking an EIA of our QR and formula-based research capital funding policy (see paragraphs 8 and 9, below). An EIA is an evidence-based approach to help organisations ensure that their policies, practices, and decision-making processes are fair and do not present barriers to participation, or disadvantage any protected groups
  4. The EIA will support Research England to meet the statutory duties stipulated under the Equality Act 2010. The Act puts a duty on public sector bodies (the public sector equality duty (PSED) to:
  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation;
  • Advance equality of opportunity between people who do and do not share a protected characteristic;
  • Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not share a protected characteristic.
  1. While the UKRI Board is responsible for ensuring that the organisation complies with the PSED, as a council within UKRI and a key component of the research funding system, Research England is delivering UKRI’s obligation to comply with the PSED with respect to those areas of UKRI’s business for which we are responsible.
  2. The EIA for QR and formula-based research capital will:
  • Inform our understanding of the potential impact of our decisions on groups of people with different protected characteristics;
  • Provide evidence to inform policy so that it meets the needs of a diverse population;
  • Help us to ensure that considerations of equality and diversity are embedded within our practice;
  • Help us to explore the potential for positive impact, highlighting good practice and ways in which we may be able to make better use of our QR funding and formula-based research capital funding policy to advance equality of opportunity.

Scope of the Equality Impact Assessment

  1. The EIA will cover the following aspects of Research England’s core research funding allocations:
  • All elements of QR funding:
  • Mainstream QR
  • Research degree programme (RDP) supervision fund
  • Charity support fund
  • Business research element.  
  • National Research Libraries
  • Global Challenge Research Fund (GCRF)
  • Formula-based research capital:
  • HEI Research Capital
  • Higher Education Research Capital
  1. The EIA will consider:
  • All protected characteristics as set out in the Equality Act 2010: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation;
  • University staff (i.e. those who support or conduct research funded by the funding streams);
  • Subjects and participants of research (i.e. individuals on whom funded research is conducted);
  • Beneficiaries of research (i.e. individuals who benefit or may benefit from the research funded).


  1. Alongside our internal consideration of the equality impact of the funding streams as set up above, Research England intends to provide a range of opportunities for the sector to engage with this process over summer 2019, including:
  • Invitation-only discussion workshops for HEIs in receipt of QR and formula capital funding; 
  • Related online resources, including a slide-pack, available to all interested stakeholders;
  • An online survey and related call for evidence to gather further information on the potential impacts of our funding policy on protected groups;
  1. This engagement activity is intended to give you the opportunity to inform the outcome of equality impact assessment. As part of this engagement activity those in receipt of QR and formula-based research capital funding, and other key stakeholders, are invited to:
  • Provide independent documents and data that may inform the evidence review and assessment;
  • Provide evidence that demonstrates positive and/or negative impacts on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) through QR research and formula capital funding;
  • Provide evidence that addresses how positive impacts on EDI may be further explored;
  • Source evidence that addresses how negative impacts or potential negative impacts on EDI may be removed or mitigated.

Further information

Further information is available on the Research England website: The webpage will be updated throughout this process.

Any questions about this letter should be addressed to Helen Snaith or Claire Packman at, telephone 0117 931 7411.

Yours sincerely

David Sweeney
Executive Chai