Bricks and mortar board

July 5, 2002

Alan Howarth, the former Tory education minister who crossed the floor to join Labour in 1995, last week pointed out some of the benefits of the research assessment exercise.

Speaking in Westminster Hall during a debate on the RAE, Mr Howarth said: "Of course, when universities are trying to get research grades as part of the research assessment exercise, they forget that the buildings around them are dripping water and that the cement blocks that were built in the 1960s are no longer stable."

Higher education minister Margaret Hodge launched a new topic for study - admittedly well after it had been picked up by the community.

Responding to last week's debate, she posed the question: "Has the system been manipulated? Such questions in a sense become academic."

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