University research departments receiving the new five-star grade in next year's Research Assessment Exercise should not expect any extra funding for achieving the highest accolade.
Five-star departments are likely to receive the same cash weighting as those simply graded five, said Graeme Davies, chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England.
Professor Davies said the addition of the five-star grade in the 1996 research assessment exercise was to show the recipient was "truly a major player on the world stage".
"You will get a grade five by being strongly international. Five-star will be for those not only strongly international, they are predominantly international," said Professor Davies. "It is unlikely it would make any difference in funding, that is our intention. It is a better grade five which shows they are truly international internationalists," he added.
But he said the split in the middle grade to 3A and 3B was likely to have a real impact on institutions. The current grade three attracts a funding rating of two, which is likely to be changed to 2.25 for a 3A and 1.75 for a 3B.
"We are trying to say that instead of going up in big steps all the time there is one stage you can take in two steps," he said. "We are trying to make a better distinction among the bulk of departments and reflect that finer gradation to a limited extent in the funding."
Professor Davies, who leaves the funding council to become principal of the University of Glasgow in October, stressed these were not the council's final decisions.
The HEFCE is expected to make those decisions when the assessment results are in at the end of next year.
He added: "At the moment there is no intention not to fund grade two departments although the Scottish funding council has given notice they think it is unlikely they will fund grade two."