Elitist pipe dream (1 of 3)

January 27, 2011

While Research Councils UK's proposals to concentrate quality-related research funding on centres of established excellence and capacity are defensible, those advocated by David Colquhoun - which amount to the abolition of research activity in post-1992 universities - are pipe dreams encouraged by too many years in the ivory tower ("More concentration needed", 20 January).

Colquhoun seems blissfully happy to generalise his observations on teaching and research in pharmacology to the entire academy. His comment that "some University College London staff would rather not do research and would prefer to move to the University of Westminster" is indicative of his disciplinary myopia and, perhaps, growing arrogance within the charmed circle of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

Perhaps the good professor does not regard media studies to be "real" research, but Westminster has one of the top-rated research departments in any discipline, with 90 per cent of its communication, cultural and media studies work rated four- and three-star in the 2008 RAE.

In the same unit of assessment, my own department at De Montfort University (post-1992) did rather better than academics at the University of Oxford. Can it expect a straight transfer to the dreaming spires?

There are many similar instances that Colquhoun should put in his pipe and smoke before pontificating further.

Steve Chibnall, Director of the Cinema and Television History (CATH) Research Centre, De Montfort University.

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