Letter: The RAE rat race 1

February 8, 2002

The idea that centres of excellence for research will also be centres of excellence for teaching is misconceived (Letters, THES , February 1). Academics who are brilliant researchers, teachers and communicators are a minority.

To teach with enthusiasm and authority, you do not have to be researching at the forefront of your subject. You need scholarship. This involves keeping up with developments, talking to the people who do the cutting-edge research and attending conferences. The real scholars are those who can synthesise information and transmit it in a coherent form.

Plenty of academics who love teaching race into research because that is the only currency to get promotion. Meanwhile, we have new recruits selected for their research potential but lumbered with massive teaching loads.

The "juniors" are expected to justify their potential by chasing grants and research students, and by writing papers - otherwise they will not get promotion either.

J. B. Wright
Milton Keynes

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