Back PhDs everywhere

March 11, 2005

The Higher Education Funding Council for England is phasing out funding for PhD students in departments with units of assessment ranked 3a ("Funding fillip for further study", March 4). Now it can give more cash to the so-called research intensive universities and forget postgraduate research education in the rest.

Since the last research assessment exercise, my 3a biology department has won substantial funding from research councils, industry and research council studentships, which unlike Hefce funding are awarded under evidence-based schemes. One can only interpret Hefce's policy as an attempt to further stifle the development of research in the lower rated departments in the run-up to the next RAE.

PhD students should be funded wherever there is high-quality supervision, training and research.

Chris Hawes
Oxford Brookes University

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