Pecking order

January 31, 1997

Now that the waves of the 1996 RAE are subsiding, we should consider if and when there should be another. One relevant factor is the cost estimated by the Higher Education Funding Council for England at Pounds 2 million, according to The THES. Yet this is surely the cost of what was explicitly allocated by the HEFCE, the honoraria and expenses of the panellists, the salaries and overheads of HEFCE staff working on the exercise. The bulk of the real cost, however, cannot be accurately estimated, because it was due to the time of researchers and administrators in all the institutions involved in the exercise, and their overheads. Goodness knows how many meetings were held, and how many drafts of documents circulated.

This has left us less time to teach and to do research, and is almost all of the true price we have paid.

P. G. Drazin professor of mathematics University of Bristol

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