£25m will ease pain for losers from RAE

March 10, 2006

New universities will receive the lion's share of a £25 million fund to improve research-based teaching, The Times Higher can reveal.

The amount allocated to a university from the fund will be in inverse proportion to how much the institution receives for research through the research assessment exercise.

Universities that stand to benefit the most include Worcester, Thames Valley, Liverpool Hope, Canterbury Christ Church, Southampton Solent, Bolton, Chichester, Chester, Derby and Northampton.

The fund, known as the Research-Informed Teaching Environment Initiative, is aimed at maintaining the high standards of honours degrees in England.

The fund has been created to ensure that universities that receive little or nothing from the RAE have staff with up-to-date research who create a "research-informed" environment for their students.

Many believe the new fund signals the end of the idea of teaching-only institutions mooted in the 2003 White Paper, The Future of Higher Education .

The Higher Education Funding Council for England will announce how much each university will receive from the fund in the next two weeks.

Liz Beaty, the funding council's director of learning and teaching, said:

"I think it is generally accepted that higher education requires a research base, and so 'teaching-only' does not mean that teaching is totally divorced from research.

"This fund acknowledges that some institutions do not have the money available to fund research.

"But it is important that the staff in these institutions use up-to-date research in designing their courses and that students study in an environment that is informed by research.

"The whole point of a graduate is someone who understands something of the nature and processes of research."

Alan Jenkins, an educational developer at Oxford Brookes University who was on the panel that advised Hefce on the fund, said: "This marks a decisive rejection of 'teaching-only' universities and puts funding where it is most needed by ensuring students benefit from research-based learning."

Mike Prosser, director of research and evaluation at the Higher Education Academy who was also on the panel, said: "UK honours degrees need to be worked at to keep their good reputation, and this fund will help. Other countries are putting a lot of resources into making their degrees as good if not better than the UK's."

The new fund will last for two years initially, with £10 million distributed between September 2006 and 2007 and £15 million allocated the following year.

jessica.shepherd@thes.co.uk

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