'Stab in the back' 1

March 21, 2003

Roger Brown (Letters, THES , March 14) suggests that it may now be too late for any rational allocation of a stream of funding for research and scholarship. While it is to be hoped that this is not the case, clearly from the recent draft strategic plan, the Higher Education Funding Council for England has swallowed the arguments put forward in the white paper.

There are so many profound objections to the concentration of research funding and the creation of a teaching-only cadre that I am amazed that these proposals are rolling on without an academic rebellion.

Teaching-only academics will be perceived as sub-standard, with no hope of moving to more research-intensive departments. Many students will be taught in sterile teaching-only environments, where the emphasis will be on textbook regurgitation, not engagement at the cutting edge of the discipline.

Few academics would have gone along with the research assessment exercise charade if they foresaw that departments rated 3 and 4, which are carrying out important national and international work, were to be deprived of funding. Solid academics are being stabbed in the back.

Tony Ward
Senior lecturer
University of the West Indies

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