Reviewing how the NHS supports educational research: consultation

Last updated on 29 Nov 2017

This HRA consultation has closed and is displayed for reference only.

How we best support research in the NHS – Educational Research

As part of the work to underpin the development of a replacement for the Research Governance Framework when the HRA became a Non Departmental Public Body, the HRA set up an independent working group to consider what research the NHS could support, with a specific focus on educational research.

The report, published for comment in March 2014, highlighted practical recommendations to improve the experience for students and make the process more efficient.The comment period ran for 30 days from 17 March 2014 and closed on 11 April 2014. A summary of the comments received and our response to each comment is available in the documents section below.

Following a review of the comments made and further analysis, the recommendations have now been revised to reflect the concerns of respondents. These are summarised below.


  • The HRA should develop a section of its website dedicated to supporting students and their supervisors.
  • The HRA should develop IRAS so that it can be used for teaching and assessment purposes.
  • Course leaders/supervisors should be encouraged to develop and lead research projects that individual students at Masters level and below can contribute to at different stages
  • Academic staff should be allowed to make a single ‘batch’ application for ethical review on behalf of a number of different students for very low risk projects under proportionate review.
  • NHS organisations should provide local universities with research questions/priorities that they want addressing locally.
  • A research culture should be fostered amongst undergraduate students by encouraging an awareness of research and enabling them to develop skills in research methods.
  • Students should not normally take the role of Chief Investigator (CI) at any level of study.
  • Students from non-health related courses such as business studies or IT wishing to undertake research which involves accessing patients or their data in an NHS setting should be offered a co-supervisor with a health-related background to help them negotiate their way through the research process.
  • An early filter for poor quality research should be established.
  • Universities and colleges should accept the role of sponsor for all educational research conducted by their own students unless it is more appropriate for an NHS organisation to do this.
  • Sponsors of educational research should ensure that their supervisors are competent to fulfil this role.
  • The HRA should give feedback to universities on the quality of the applications that they receive.

Future work

The HRA will look at how each recommendation can be best communicated and implemented. This will include considering the implications for both policy level and operational level guidance including the development of future policy to replace the Research Governance Framework.


Working Group


  • Professor John Saunders Chair of the Ethics Committee for the Royal College of Physicians


  • Dr Charles Bruce Managing Director Health Education North West England
  • Professor Peter Furness Assistant Medical Director & Consultant Histopathologist, Leicester Royal Infirmary.
  • Professor Peter Heasman Professor of Periodontology, University of Newcastle.
  • Professor Sue Mawson Director of NIHR CLAHRC for South Yorkshire
  • Professor Paula McGee Chair of Nursing, Birmingham City University
  • Mr Gary Roper Head of Regulatory Compliance, Imperial College London
  • Professor Nalin Thakker Associate Vice President for Compliance, Risk and Research, University of Manchester.
  • Professor Jon Wass Professor of Endocrinology, University of Oxford
  • Professor Ken Wilson Chair of Old Age Psychiatry, University of Liverpool.

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