FIFTY "under-performing" academics are to be axed by Nottingham University in an attempt to improve ratings in the next research assessment round.
Lecturers have until May to decide whether to leave the university voluntarily or risk dismissal.
All academic staff have been asked to submit individual research plans detailing how they propose to achieve a grade 4 or above at the next assessment, which is expected in April 2000. Those whose plans are deemed inferior will be placed in a redundancy pool and asked to take voluntary redundancy or severance.
The university said this week that shedding academic staff was the key to success in research assessment. Spokesman Philip Dalling said that although Nottingham had done "exceptionally well" in achieving high RAE grades, "the university considers there were too many 3s - the norm should be grade 4".
Nottingham came 30th in the THES table of RAE grades and 74th in a table of institutions listed according to rates of improvement in RAE grades since 1992.
Mr Dalling said up to Pounds 3 million needed to be removed from staffing costs to tackle a deficit of Pounds 2.4 million by the end of the current financial year. If there were not enough volunteers compulsory redundancies might follow.
Sandi Golby, president of Nottingham Association of University Teachers, said academics had been told they were in breach of contract if they were not part of the research assessment exercise.