Letter: Quality defences (2)

October 26, 2001

Simon Jenkins is wrong to say that the research assessment exercise was crass beyond belief. He is conjuring a straw man because RAE panels assess much more evidence than quantified indices of outputs.

But Jenkins might wish to know that those quantified outputs tell a positive story.

Research done by the Higher Education Policy Unit at the University of Leeds has shown that the RAE has increased the effectiveness of research activity.

The data show a significant rise in performance for the late 1980s and early 1990s compared with the slow decline that preceded the first research selectivity exercise in 1986.

Outputs such as well-trained people and high-quality publications have risen relative to core staff numbers in most subject areas.

The UK's higher education research base is an incredibly good public-sector investment by any international standard, and consequently the best institutions and departments attract private-sector investment in proportion.

Jonathan Adams and David Smith

Higher Education Policy Unit University of Leeds

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