January 17, 1997

You report (THES, January 10) that environmental scientists feel that they were done down by the earth scientists in the recent RAE. One test of their allegation is to look at changes in rating of departments from the 1992 results. There are obvious differences in the reporting of the results of the two exercises, but ignoring the splitting of 3 and 5 and leaving out departments that only appear in one RAE, shows the following changes.

In earth sciences the following departments went up: Brunel (1 to 2), Cardiff (3 to 4), Luton (1 to 2), Portsmouth (2 to 3b). The departments that went down were: Birmingham (4 to 3a), Manchester (5 to 4) and St Andrews (3 to 2).

In environmental science the following departments went up: Bradford (2 to 3b), Hertfordshire (2 to 3b), Manchester Metropolitan (2 to 3b), Stirling (2 to 3b). The following went down: Kent (3 to 2), Plymouth (4 to 3a) and Wolverhampton (2 to 1). The 1992 list gave separate ratings for basic and applied science. Two departments could also be considered to have gone down when both ratings are considered: Sunderland (2&3 to 2), Glasgow (3&4 to 3).

It does not seem to me that this shows a bias towards earth science, particularly when you see that the "highest" loser in environmental sciences, Plymouth, seems to have been playing the numbers game as it put in 43.4 staff this time compared with 26.0 in 1992.

Antony Wyatt Institute of earth studies, University of Wales, Aberystwyth

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