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
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
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