Apocalyptic visions 1

June 6, 2003

The report "RAE reform to shut out one in three" ( THES, May 30) presents an apocalyptic vision and names me as its creator. It lists institutions that allegedly would no longer receive research grants under my proposals. While I have proposed three streams of research assessment, this is very different from suggesting that any institution should cease to be funded for research.

Paragraphs 142-7 of my report discuss the fact that for less research-intensive institutions, the research assessment exercise is a relatively inefficient means of establishing entitlement to funding. This is illustrated by what is openly acknowledged to be a crude statistical analysis. My conclusion is that there should be an alternative form of assessment. Nowhere do I recommend that such institutions be denied the option of submitting to the RAE, far less that they should lose funding.

The proposals are not "from the Higher Education Funding Council for England" but from me to all four UK funding bodies, which have reserved judgement on the recommendations until the consultation ends. I trust that The THES will play its part in ensuring an informed and balanced debate.

Sir Gareth Roberts
Wolfson College, Oxford

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