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


Memorandum submitted by the Institute of Food Science & Technology (IFST)

  It can clearly be stated that the RAE process has been successful and has achieved its purpose by driving up the quality of research across the university sector. The outcome of RAE 2001 is that almost 80 per cent of research is now rated at 4 or higher. This reflects the fact that almost 80 per cent of the staff returned in the RAE were in units rated at 4 or greater; these staff were located in 64 per cent of the submissions returned. Members of IFST were involved as Panel Members in RAE 2001 and their view is that there were genuine increases in research quality and not a drift upwards in the grades awarded ie a real improvement in quality.

  The universities have the reasonable expectation that the improvements achieved will be rewarded. In many cases universities have invested from their own resources to achieve improvements and have the reasonable expectation of a pay back. Also, universities have made plans on the basis that the RAE results would be implemented from 2002-03.

  It is clear that HEFCE requires extra money in order to fund universities on the same basis as before because of the uplift achieved in the amount of research rated as 4, 5 and 5*.

  Conversely, to slice up the existing "cake" across these areas would require hard and far reaching decisions with regard to the cut off point. This is especially pertinent where Units of Assessment have shown improvements from RAE 1996 to the grade of 3a in 2001. Not to provide reward here would seem especially hard and unfair.

  There are a number of Food Science and Technology Units rated below four but which are nevertheless significant and important because of their location, their involvement with local industry and their teaching role. There is more to a university department than the quality of research. IFST would not wish to see a reduction in government funding, which affects the viability of these departments to teach and train students who will become part of the infrastructure of the strategically important food industry. The food industry is overall the largest contributor to the GNP and it deserves full support from Government for the research it carries out and it is reasonable to expect the Government to fund that research at a level that reflects this importance.

Dr Barry Pierson FIFST

Chairman, Training & Examinations Committee

23 January 2002

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