§ Julie Morgan
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what criteria the Natural Environment Research Council uses to allocate funding to universities. 
§ Ms Hewitt
NERC allocates research funding after assessment of individual project proposals received from institutions eligible for funding. Their three-stage review process consists of: an Initial Review by the Peer Review College; an External Review by independent peer reviewers; and a final review and grading by a Moderating Panel.
At each stage, project proposals are assessed for Excellence; Fit to NERC Priorities; balance of Risk-Reward; and Cost Effectiveness. Details of the review process, assessment criteria and how they are applied to various categories of research proposals are set out on NERC's website at http://www.nerc.ac.uk/funding/preaward/criteria.shtml. Allocations are not made on a simple university basis.
NERC determines the allocation of postgraduate studentships given to a department on the basis of NERC grant income and fellowships received by that department, provided the RAE rating of the department is not lower than 3b.
MSc studentship allocations are reviewed every five years to assess the quality of the course, how it fits with NERC priorities and the overall balance within the NERC portfolio, and the relevance and/or benefits to end-users.1048W
Fellowships are awarded after assessment against criteria which consider primarily the excellence of the science and the track record and potential of the individual. The assessors also consider the availability of required facilities at the proposed department of tenure.