RAE for the vain but not the old 1

May 28, 2004

Universities are already looking for ways to avoid including weak researchers in the next research assessment exercise ("Staff at risk in RAE run-up", May 21) which will doubtless involve approaching people to take early retirement.

Any future RAE will have to take account of government plans to strengthen equality legislation. The UK's disgraceful opt-out of European human-rights commitments to prevent ageism ends in 2006. After that, universities will not be able to ask older researchers to leave unless they treat younger researchers whose work is of a comparable standard similarly.

The RAE is conducive to discrimination on many grounds, but particularly in relation to age. Permanent staff are assessed on their ability to attract research funds that are largely used for the fixed-term employment of young graduates, who are often previously acquainted with the grant holder who in effect appoints them. Criteria such as the publication of research papers discriminate not only against people moving between universities and industry, but also against older people wishing to resume university research after a career break.

The RAE urgently needs to deploy fair recruitment and employment practices devised by experts, rather than rely on criteria that appear to have evolved historically through bureaucratic procedures. Universities appointing staff to meet RAE criteria would be in difficulty if these were found to be ageist by the proposed Commission for Equality and Human Rights.

Your editorial (May 21) highlights the need for an RAE that is more administratively efficient and internationally credible. Its impact on equal opportunities is another reason why the RAE should go.

Frederic Stansfield
Canterbury, Kent

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver

Creator of controversial predatory journals blacklist says some peers are failing to warn of dangers of disreputable publishers

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
Kayaker and jet skiiers

Nazima Kadir’s social circle reveals a range of alternative careers for would-be scholars, and often with better rewards than academia

hole in ground

‘Drastic action’ required to fix multibillion-pound shortfall in Universities Superannuation Scheme, expert warns