Select Committee on Science and Technology Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the University of East Anglia

  1.  The selective allocation of research funds based on the assessment of research quality at departmental level has played a critical part in increasing the research performance in UK HEIs and should continue for a further period. The RAE has focused the minds of some of the most talented people in the UK on improving quality of their research and publications. It is to be expected that this strong focus would improve and continue to improve research quality.

  2.  As discussed in the HEFCs review of research policy and funding, the various methods for assessing research all have their flaws. This includes the current RAE process which is very time intensive. The strengths of the current RAE process however are that it is peer review focused, it is an assessment of individual departments and the overall cost of operating the process is still small in comparison to the funds allocated as a result (approx 1 per cent of total QR allocated).

  3.  We strongly support continuation of the dual support funding mechanism for HEIs. The stream of funding allocated through HEFCs enables HEIs to make strategic long term plans for research. It also gives HEIs freedom to be innovative in the direction of research and pursue new avenues of research.

  4.  The benefits to research performance and competitiveness from the current selective system would be undermined if funds to reward improvements in research performance were not forthcoming. For example, the ability of highly rated departments in HEIs to compete internationally, retain academic staff in the UK etc would be reduced if appropriate levels of funding were not available.

  5.  The mechanisms for assessment and funding should enable dynamism, ie for new subjects to emerge and for institutions to develop their research excellence or receive less funding if their research excellence declines. Thus whilst funds should continue to be allocated on a selective basis, that selectivity should not be so steep as to create a lack of competition that results in some HEIs receiving research funds from past glories rather than current achievements.

  6.  Additional ear-marked funding from HEFCs for research infrastructure in all subject areas is needed.

  7.  Given the partial development of specific project support for the arts and humanities, the research assessment process and selective allocation of research funds is of particular importance to arts and humanities subjects.

  8.  As circumstances change within the UK HEI sector, we support the case for reviewing alternative methods for assessing departmental research and selectively allocating research funds on their merits.

Professor Graham Bentham


January 2002

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 24 April 2002