Hunt on wrong track 2

December 9, 2005

A world in which desperate universities hunt down research stars in a quest for cash may resonate with the cynics, but for many of us this is not the case ("RAE poachers take big game", December 2). As a research-intensive university, Bristol is constantly recruiting excellent people to maintain and enhance the quality of research and would do so even if the research assessment exercise had never been invented.

We have assumed that the financial outcome of RAE 2008 will be that the same limited pot will be distributed slightly more selectively. We have not built a significant uplift in quality-related (QR) funding from 2009 onwards into our financial planning.

Anyone with GCSE mathematics will be able to calculate that under the new assessment structure for RAE 2008, there cannot be an economic case for recruiting academics in the belief that there will be a net positive return on investment generated solely through a resulting increase in QR. If institutions do believe that, there will be some very serious financial chickens coming home to roost in 2009.

Eric Thomas
Vice-chancellor, Bristol University

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