I sincerely hope that the desire to limit the research function of most universities will not be taken on board by the Dearing committee. I strongly believe that this would make the idea of an academic career less attractive to most young staff.
My own decision to leave the commercial sector for academic life sprang from a desire to enjoy the freedom to pursue research and scholarly activity in a learning environment. My current department (electrical and electronic engineering, Manchester Metropolitan University) provided excellent teaching coupled with a good research record and opportunities. If the last of these was to be removed and a treadmill of teaching to result, lecturing would be a highly unattractive option.
Pay is poor; I have almost recovered to my commercial salary level of five years ago. Hence, for someone possessing a first-class degree and PhD from universities in The Times "top ten", conditions of service and flexibility are the main benefits.
If Dearing produces a "superleague", it will be a sad day both for me, as I shall have to seek alternative employment, and for the United Kingdom. If this has been the position earlier this century then some top departments of today would never have made a mark. The restriction of opportunities to a subset of large players is by its nature anti-competitive and I am surprised the Government is considering it. All higher education should take place in an atmosphere of scholarly activity and research. The market will then decide on the quality of the work done. Overall inadequacy of university funding should not be masked by attempts to restrict improvement and competition.
Dr M. S. Leeson Whaley Bridge, High Peak