RAE failure verges on criminal 2

May 24, 2002

It is encouraging to see growing dissent towards the RAE within universities that have traditionally benefitted from it ("Boycott the behemoth", THES , May 17). Given the growing chorus of protest from disciplines that have been substantially damaged by it, such as environmental sciences, pharmacology, physiology and my own, social policy, and the report of the select committee on science and technology, it surely is time for it to be abandoned.

At Hull, most of our 1996 3as were converted to 4s or 5s, many 4s also became 5s; yet we find ourselves facing a serious financial situation that is undermining the capacity of many of us to do serious research. Our research development plans were predicated on reasonable returns from the 2001 RAE; instead we have been offered cuts while the government demands ever-increasing numbers of students and more participation.

The RAE is characterised by game-playing and by enormous inconsistency between panels, it benefits the haves over the have-nots, allows no appeal other than through the courts, and discourages innovation and risk-taking. The government should announce now that it will abandon the RAE as a means of assessing research quality and establish a transitional fund to support those areas of research hardest hit while a more equitable, flexible and robust form of assessment is developed.

Gary Craig
Professor of social justice
University of Hull

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