Glasgow University academics with a poor research record could lose their jobs following a Pounds 2-million drop in research funding.
Sir Graeme Davies, Glasgow's principal, says there will be a "rigorous review to establish reasons for the underlying deficiencies in research commitment". The move follows a similar announcement by Nottingham University that its "under-performing" academics are to be axed to improve research ratings.
Sir Graeme said that the review aimed to identify academics who could and should do more research, and give them guidance and support.
Those who were not active researchers made a valuable contribution but would be expected to bear significantly heavier teaching and administrative loads.
But, he predicted, a "small rump" of staff would not contribute as they should. "I do believe in the current climate no university can afford to carry passengers who threaten either the academic or financial integrity of the institution," he said.
Sir Graeme said staff unions were fully aware of the plans. In the past he has ruled out compulsory redundancies when outlining proposed job losses.
Despite a significant improvement in its ratings in the latest assessment exercise, Glasgow's research grant from the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council has dropped by 8.5 per cent from Pounds 21.5 million to Pounds 19.6 million. This is partly because "research active" staff had fallen from 91 per cent in 1992 to 76 per cent in 1996.
Sir Graeme said that more than 90 per cent of staff in comparable universities such as Edinburgh and Aberdeen were active researchers. Glasgow needed room for manoeuvre to achieve a similar percentage, and the current grant reinforced the pressure for its proposed programme of "controlled staff restructuring". Last year Glasgow launched plans to shed 90 senior academic posts by 1999.
Sir Graeme added that he wanted to ensure academics were not burdened with administrative work. "This university has made a virtue of proportionately low administrative costs compared with its peers, and the price we may be paying for this is a significant erosion of academic time available for research."
* Nottingham academics speak out, page 6