Quality in humanities gets ever less support

January 31, 2008

I am convenor of the Arts and Humanities Research Council Research Panel 3 (English), which met last week to assess applications for the research leave scheme. We read, graded and wrote comments on 63 bulky applications, 48 for our panel alone. We awarded top grades of A+ to 16 of them, in a competition of exceptionally high quality.

We were instructed to rank only seven (of which six will probably get an award). It could not have been a more disheartening experience.

In my service on this panel, the success rate has declined from 50 per cent to 15 per cent; the quality has only improved. The panel is unanimous in deploring the cuts ("Anger greets loss of 500 arts postgrads", 24 January) to a scheme that is distinctive to the arts and humanities in supporting individual research projects, and infinitely more valuable and economically productive than big headline-grabbing strategic programmes and research grants that spend so much of the cash.

Judie Newman, Convenor, AHRC Research Panel 3 (English).

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