Letter: Relationship problem

May 18, 2001

Martin Dodsworth confuses the relationship between the British Academy and the Arts and Humanities Research Board (Soapbox, THES , May 4).

The establishment of the AHRB owed much to the BA's president, Sir Tony Wrigley, and to its officers, but in no sense is the AHRB the BA's creature. The role of the UK funding councils has been critical and two-thirds of funding will shortly come through them.

Dodsworth makes much of the BA's acting as an "overseer" of the AHRB. This is entrusted to our funding group, chaired by Sir Brian Fender, and comprises our funders, representatives from other bodies, and government departments. Its touch has been light and strategically sensitive and policy has been developed within the board.

Appointments to our panels and board of management are not in the gift of the BA but are made after consultation and advertisements. Panelists command the confidence of their subject communities.

Funding through the BA underwrites our postgraduate studentships programme, policy for which is made by the AHRB. The BA's forthcoming report on postgraduate research will inform our thinking. Nevertheless policy development in this key area, as in others, reflects our sensitivity to the research needs of a diverse subject domain and the interests of stakeholders throughout the UK.

David Eastwood
Chief executive, AHRB

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