Peep's Diary

October 26, 2007

It's ok to hate the Ref

It gives Peep little pleasure to be the first to reveal the three letters that will soon become impregnated on the brains of every academic in the UK - they are R, E and F. Ref is the new RAE. The research evaluation framework is the name mooted for the system to replace the research assessment exercise.

Hefce is going Dutch

Speaking of the Ref, Peep gathers that the Higher Education Funding Council for England has just awarded a second six-figure contract to the University of Leiden to develop the metrics system that will be its backbone. The Dutch academics apparently have exciting ideas on what should replace the peer review system that guides the distribution of billions of pounds of research funding. But cynics are asking: didn't England once have its own science policy industry? Or is the problem that funding chiefs can't trust UK academics to develop their own highly controversial system?

Phwoar, what a dreamboat

Anyone using a web search engine to look up Tony Bruce, Universities UK's veteran head of research and former policy chief, may end up rather confused. Please note, UUK's Mr Bruce should not be confused with Tony Bruce of Storm Models - a striking chap, 6ft 1in, with a chest size of 39in, green eyes and brown "mid-length" hair.

Probing under the shell

Hats off to Edinburgh University vet school. Peep hears that its staff and students have been providing free health checks for tortoises, which, said the university's Emma Keeble, are "notoriously bad at showing signs of illness" - or indeed anything else.

Compensation culture

Tory higher education spokesman David Willetts doesn't think much of performance-related pay. After delivering the Campaign for Science and Engineering's annual lecture last week, he harked back to the introduction of PRP in his time at the Treasury. Colleagues awarded a bonus to a recipient they deemed undeserving. Asked why he was chosen, Mr Willetts recalled someone saying: "He'll never get promoted, so we thought we'd give him a bonus as compensation." How egalitarian.


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