REF isn't blind to reality (2 of 2)

January 12, 2012

Excluding Greece from an assessment of the European Union economy, Heurelho Gomes from an evaluation of Tottenham Hotspur or poor performing companies from a trust portfolio appraisal is inappropriate since the objective of each case is singular - namely economic success, winning games and making profit. Universities, on the other hand, have several objectives, research and teaching being two core, intimately related activities with different measurable outcomes.

Furthermore, the sector's funding systems have been established to fund research and teaching independently, and some effort has been expended to reduce the cross-subsidy of one by the other. Universities must utilise their resources effectively, which may mean a division of labour with some academics undertaking relatively more research or teaching.

That each university is judged on its absolute output is right and proper, and accommodates and identifies pockets of research excellence. Institutions that have research strength in depth are rewarded accordingly. Being assessed on and funded for what is actually delivered would seem a perfectly fair system and one that taxpayers can easily understand.

Quintin McKellar, University of Hertfordshire

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