Scotland, here I come

February 7, 1997

Should not your front-page headline "Research formula will reward elite" (THES, January 24) be rephrased as "Research formula will punish the successful"?

First, there is the reliability of the 5* rating in itself (and the wide differences between the proportion of such ratings awarded in different subject areas do not inspire confidence) and the fact that throughout the conduct of the exercise it was widely assumed that the star would be a badge of honour, but carry no financial implications.

But leaving this aside, the consequences of the proposed quality values will be that university departments awarded 4 and "straight" 5 - departments which are therefore, according to the criteria, operating now at a high level of international and national recognition - will be compelled to shed staff.

The inevitable consequence of this will be a weakening of the performance of these departments in the future.

Is this fair, just, or even sensible in protecting the overall health of research in the international arena?

Is secession to Scotland possible?

David Lindley

Thorner Leeds

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