Safeguarding science's foundations

May 3, 1996

The recommendations about science research funding in universities from the NAPAG are worrying. Clearly, there is a worsening problem of funding science research in universities and, if the current or future governments fail to increase research cash in real terms, then British universities will find it difficult to undertake high quality research and compete internationally.

There is, however, a fundamental flaw in polarising available research funds into only "3a, 4 and 5" rated departments. This system does not sufficiently recognise individual research scientists. Good science is essentially about individuals and not necessarily large "expensive" groups of scientists in a few high-rated centres. Instead of withdrawing funds from departments "low-rated" in the RAE, the funding system should identify individual researchers or groups in such departments that are highly rated and target funds appropriately.

Philip Craig, Professor of biology, University of Salford

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