Chemical industry takes HEFCE to task

October 2, 1998

The funding councils were this week charged by the Chemical Industries Association of failing to take into account the views of industry during the consultation over the future of the research assessment exercise, writes Kam Patel.

In a letter to David Pilsbury, head of research policy at the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the CIA complains that questions asked by the councils in the first consultation document "were drafted in such a way as to maintain the status quo".

The second round of consultations has "reinforced this view". The CIA wants a big shake-up of the RAE to take industry's needs into account.

Paul Leonard, head of research and innovation at CIA, said the association has proposed a system to raise the profile of industrial research and training needs through such measures as including more industrialists on assessment panels. The CIA is aware that HEFCE is exploring the creation of a new funding stream to encourage applied work in universities, but believes industrial involvement and the focus on interdisciplinary work must be strengthened.

HEFCE rejected the CIA's charges, saying it intends to fully involve industry and commerce in the next RAE. The council is discussing with the Confederation of British Industry the setting-up of a joint task group to encourage full participation. "We are committed to a more inclusive panel membership," said a spokesman.

Dr Leonard said it is not surprising CIA's proposals have been ignored, given the funding councils' method of assessing responses to the consultation. There were about 400 respondents to the first consultation exercise of which seven were industrial organisations including the CIA, the CBI and four companies, he said.

Dr Leonard said: "Comments from the CIA, representing some 200 companies, including some of the biggest sponsors of research in universities, would seem to carry the same weight in your (funding councils') system of assessment as, for example, the head of archive and records management courses at University College London (valid though his or her view may be)."

Register to continue

Why register?

  • Registration is free and only takes a moment
  • Once registered, you can read 3 articles a month
  • Sign up for our newsletter
Please Login or Register to read this article.


Featured jobs