Lecturers attack grants shake-up

March 7, 1997

LECTURERS have criticised university funding changes as too blunt an instrument for research.

The Association of University Teachers welcomed steps an-nounced in last week's allocations from the Higher Education Funding Council for England to provide stability through "moderating" rises or falls in grant.

But it said the funding method meant institutions that did lots of research were taking the biggest gamble.

David Triesman, AUT general secretary, said: "Factors such as specialist or regional standing have to be taken into account or there is a risk that the survival of research becomes a matter for accountants."

Exeter, East Anglia and Kent universities, for example, had lost money while being the only research centres in their area.

Gareth Roberts, chairman of the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals, said that HEFCE had concentrated money where excellence was highest but that overall funding was too tight.

HEFCE announced last week allocations of Pounds 3.4 billion to universities for 1997/98. It has continued its policy of converging historical differences in grants allocated for teaching. But most changes to the funding formula were the result of last year's research assessment exercise.

The council "moderated" these fluctuations in grant for the first year by taking money from those with the highest increases and giving them to those losing most.

Peter North, vice chancellor at Oxford University, which saw its research grant rise by more than 13 per cent but its overall grant up less than 6 per cent, said he understood some kind of cap was necessary. But he said it meant that the selectivity policy was not working fully.

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