In 2005, a Steering Group chaired by Professor Sir John Enderby was charged with implementing an independent review and reporting back to the Council of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Scottish Executive. The remit was as follows:-
“To assess the extent to which the RSE’s Scottish Executive funded Personal and Support Research Fellowships are attractive, provide value for money, meet market demand, are administered effectively, require improvements or changes of any kind, and to consider the implications of full economic costs.”
The main conclusions of the Review commissioned were that the scheme funded by the Government since 1981 had worked well and delivered good value for money, but that to maintain its prestige nature, as well as attract and retain outstanding researchers to Scotland, the following changes were needed:
a) The duration of the Personal Research Fellowships should be extended to at least four years to allow Research Fellows to qualify for Principal Investigator status.
b) Research Fellows should normally be offered a permanent position at the end of the Fellowship. (Without such certainty, the scheme is prone to premature resignation as Fellows move to permanent posts when these become available. This creates unpredictability in actual spending levels.)
c) The number of Personal Research Fellowships awarded annually should be increased from 3 to at least 6, given the large number of high calibre applicants.
d) Full economic costing (fEC) should apply, as this is established Government policy for creating sustainable Universities and applies to similar schemes operated through the Royal Society of London and Research Councils.