The RAE/REF have engendered evaluation selectivity and strategic behaviour, reinforced scientific norms, and further stratified UK higher education

Posted in Research on February 13th, 2018 by steve

“The UK’s periodic research assessment exercise has grown larger and more formalised since its first iteration in 1986. Marcelo Marques, Justin JW Powell, Mike Zapp and Gert Biesta have examined what effects it has had on the submitting behaviour of institutions, considering the intended and unintended consequences in the field of education research …” (more)

[LSE Impact Blog, 13 February]

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Why did REF2014 cost three times as much as the RAE? Hint: It’s not just because of the added impact element

Posted in Research on August 4th, 2015 by steve

UK“The benefits of any research assessment framework should ideally outweigh the costs and burden incurred by universities and staff. Derek Sayer argues there should be cause for concern now that recent analysis shows the 2014 REF bill was three times as much as the last UK assessment exercise …” (more)

[Impact of Social Sciences, 3 August]

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Axe hovers over Imperial’s faculty of medicine

Posted in Governance and administration on July 14th, 2009 by steve

UK“More than 100 jobs could go at Imperial College London’s faculty of medicine, it has emerged. According to the University and College Union, 80 of the faculty’s academic posts may be at risk, plus 50 administrative and technical roles. The faculty, established in 1997, is one of Europe’s largest medical institutions, taking on more than 300 undergraduates a year. But earlier this year, Imperial lost £5 million in recurrent research funding following disappointing results in some areas of the 2008 research assessment exercise …” (more)

[Rebecca Attwood, Times Higher Education, 14 July]

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Watch the devilish details

Posted in Research on May 15th, 2009 by steve

UK“The REF is moving in a direction that most of the sector is happy with, but there is still much at stake in the fine-tuning. Some 23 years after its first incarnation, the research assessment exercise has been finally laid to rest. But not before it gave us months of speculation, endless debate, the agony of who was to be entered and who was to be left out, game-playing, wrangles over calculations of the number of staff entered, profiles and, of course, the delightful pockets of excellence. It was a hellishly difficult time, but we were dealing with the devil we knew. Now it is time to move on, and the RAE’s successor, the research excellence framework, is currently being fashioned for implementation in 2014 …” (more)

[Ann Mroz, Times Higher Education, 14 May]

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The RAE – what would we talk about without it?

Posted in Research on May 5th, 2009 by steve

UK“I don’t seem to get as many envelopes as I once did. So when one arrives, I can’t stop myself filling the back of it with some speedy calculations. I’ve just used a nice manila A4 to see what the financial impact of the recent research assessment exercise (RAE) will be for my department. If you must ask, we received an exceptionally high score, thank you. And so, you might think, the gold will be flowing in our direction. Not quite. For a while I’ve been floating the idea that the RAE should be abolished, at least for the humanities (different considerations apply in the sciences), and replaced with a system in which each researcher who meets a certain threshold for research quality should be funded on an equal basis. In fact, the current RAE has, without meaning to, almost achieved this …” (more)

[Jonathan Wolff, Guardian, 5 May]

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Universities must not use RAE results to axe jobs warns UCU

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on April 30th, 2009 by steve

UK“UCU today warned universities not to use the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) results as an excuse to axe jobs or departments. The content of submissions made to the RAE is published today on the RAE 2008 website and the union has said it fears some universities will try to spin the results to justify axing jobs or departments. One hundred universities have already signalled their intention to make job cuts and UCU is currently in dispute with the employers’ organisation over its failure to agree to a national agreement that would ensure any institution looking to axe jobs would have to make the case clearly and transparently …” (more)

[UCU, 30 April]

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RAE panel hurt field by labelling it ‘weak’

Posted in Research on March 26th, 2009 by steve

UK“The panel responsible for judging the quality of politics research in the 2008 research assessment exercise has been criticised for ‘naivety’ after it judged the discipline to be one of the weakest in the UK. The UK’s 59 politics departments that submitted to the RAE received an average research grade of 2.34 out of 4, ranking the discipline 62nd out of 67 units of assessments in Times Higher Education’s Table of Excellence. This was despite the fact that a 2007 benchmarking review by the Economic and Social Research Council praised the discipline and concluded that ‘overall the story is one of strength’. A poor RAE result for the University of Liverpool’s politics department, which was judged to have produced no work of ‘world-leading’ (4*) quality, has been cited as a reason for its possible closure …” (more)

[Melanie Newman. Times Higher Education, 26 March]

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Scholarship is multi-faceted, but the RAE is blind to its richness

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on March 19th, 2009 by steve

UK“Within hours of reading Times Higher Education‘s report on the financial consequences of the research assessment exercise for 2009-10, vice-chancellors across the land had emailed their faculty, congratulating them on how well they had done in the funding allocation process. University marketing teams rushed to pluck ‘evidence’ from the results to refresh claims made about the research quality of their scholars, and deans and heads of department polished their soundbites. These remarks may seem a little tetchy when I reveal that my institution, the University of the West of England, did extremely well in this academic beauty contest. The amount of research funding flowing to us will increase by 121 per cent next year – one of the highest percentage increases of any university in England …” (more)

[Robin Hambleton, Times Higher Education, 19 March]

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Russell Group counts the cost as allocations slash the funding available per researcher

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on March 12th, 2009 by steve

“England’s elite research universities have lost an average of more than £6,000 per researcher as a result of last week’s funding allocations, according to a new analysis by Times Higher Education. The figures, which show one institution losing more than £12,000 for each full-time researcher, have led to warnings that the UK’s world-leading institutions may have to reduce the amount of research they do to balance the books. Last week, a total of £1.572 billion in recurrent research cash for 2009-10 was shared out between 124 English institutions on the basis of the 2008 research assessment exercise’s results. Because the money was more widely distributed than in previous allocations, the share of mainstream quality-related (QR) research funding awarded to the Russell Group of large research-intensive universities fell from 65 per cent to 60 per cent …” (more)

[Zoë Corbyn, Times Higher Education, 12 March]

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Liverpool staff promise strike over subject cuts

Posted in Governance and administration on March 11th, 2009 by steve

“Academics at Liverpool University have threatened strike action if management push through proposals to axe its politics, philosophy and probability departments in what appears to be the first casualty of poor scores in December’s national exercise to judge research quality. A meeting of the University and College Union today voted to oppose the closures and ‘prepare for possible industrial action’ including a boycott of the university’s procedure for making staff redundant or changing their contracts from research to teaching-only. Local Labour MP, Peter Kilfoyle, lodged an early day motion in parliament condemning the cuts, while John Pugh, Liberal Democrat MP for Southport and alumnus of the university, said the cuts were ‘deeply troubling’ …” (more)

[Anthea Lipsett, Guardian, 10 March]

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Future of eight Liverpool departments in doubt

Posted in Governance and administration on March 10th, 2009 by steve

“Up to eight departments are under threat at the University of Liverpool, according to internal documents seen by Times Higher Education. Three departments – politics and communication studies, philosophy and statistics – were judged by the 2008 research assessment exercise to have no world-leading (4*) research activity. The university has questioned whether this is ‘acceptable’ for a member of the Russell Group of 20 research-led institutions. ‘It is the view of the senior management team and the deans that, given the need to invest in excellence, it is not feasible to continue to support these areas in future,’ the document says. The university is also considering closing the departments of civil engineering, cancer studies, dentistry, American studies and sociology due to their RAE results …” (more)

[Melanie Newman, Times Higher Education, 9 March]

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Do the RAE judges read all the research submitted? They couldn’t if they tried

Posted in Research on March 5th, 2009 by steve

“… The last RAE (literally the last, in its present form, one understands) departed from previous practice by demanding physical copies, not mere citation, of all submitted items. Lorries duly set out from universities in the four corners of the country, giving a new meaning to the term ‘heavy goods vehicles’. The maths of the operation looked daunting, verging on superhuman. Take my subject area, English. Some 110 departments, with, on average, 25 fulltime or equivalent staff, each required to turn out four samples of published work: say an average of 200 pages per colleague. Roughly half a million pages then, some 30,000 for each of the dozen-and-a-half members of the panel. But, of course, some fields (20th-century literature, for example) generate a great deal more wordage than others …” (more)

[John Sutherland, Mortarboard, 5 March]

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RAE Funding Results

Posted in Governance and administration on March 5th, 2009 by steve

“… Resources have been spread more thinly and there are some perhaps surprising recipients of significant growth in research income. Biggest winners by cash increase (growth, % increase): University of Nottingham, £9,685,797, up 23.6%; University of Oxford, £8,769,293, 8.0%; …” (more)

[Registrarism, 5 March]

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HEFCE 2009-2010

Posted in Governance and administration on March 5th, 2009 by steve

Hefce subject research tables for 2009-10

Hefce university funding tables for 2009-10

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Research elite shaken by RAE settlement

Posted in Governance and administration on March 5th, 2009 by steve

“Some of the UK’s most prestigious universities have had their funding cut as higher education’s traditional hierarchy took a hit at the hands of the 2008 research assessment exercise settlement. The Higher Education Funding Council for England announced allocations of almost £8 billion to English institutions for 2009-10, including £1.6 billion for research and £4.8 billion for teaching. David Eastwood, chief executive of Hefce, said the overall settlement was good. In cash terms it represented a 4 per cent increase on last year, which in real terms equated to a 2 per cent rise, with inflation standing at 2 per cent. He stressed that the unit of resource for teaching had been maintained, and funding for research had increased by 7.7 per cent …” (more)

[Rebecca Attwood, Zoë Corbyn, Times Higher Education, 5 March]

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Who will win on payday? There may be tears this week as the £1.5bn in research funding is finally allocated to universities

Posted in Research on March 3rd, 2009 by steve

“David Eastwood got a laugh from assembled university heads when he predicted that this week’s funding allocations would be welcomed by all as a work of ‘corporate genius’. One thing the head of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) can predict with absolute certainty is that some universities will be disappointed and will complain bitterly. Every year, the funding bodies in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland tell universities and higher education colleges how much they will have to spend in the coming year on teaching and research; full details will be published on EducationGuardian.co.uk on Thursday. The government has already cut by 5,000 a planned increase in student places, but it is the research element in the financial package that is attracting feverish speculation this year …” (more)

[Donald MacLeod, Guardian, 3 March]

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Research elite fear HEFCE may approach funding formula with a ‘straight bat’

Posted in Research on January 22nd, 2009 by steve

“The elite research-intensive universities are unlikely to be given any special protection against funding cuts when the formula for distributing more than £1.5 billion a year to support research is devised. After Times Higher Education went to press, the board of the Higher Education Funding Council for England was due to meet to discuss the 2009-10 funding allocations, amid lobbying from leading research institutions to protect their share of research funding. Last month’s research assessment exercise, which will be used to determine research funding, found that ‘world-leading’ research was distributed widely throughout the sector. Without special protections built in to the RAE funding formula, there will be a much wider distribution of cash across the sector. It is predicted that the top eight universities could lose in excess of £100 million …” (more)

[Zoë Corbyn, THE, 22 January]

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RAE brings to light cracks in university structure

Posted in Research on January 21st, 2009 by steve

“The controversy about how research funding will be distributed between universities following the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) has exposed a basic problem in the way our higher education system is organised … In the present economic crisis there is more need than ever to focus universities on several key missions: being at the leading edge of research; producing graduates with the skills needed for business and the public services; and providing effective knowledge transfer to firms, large and small, established and newly-founded. What we are doing wrong is trying to deliver on all of these missions with a single set of incentives …” (more)

[Luke Georghiou, Guardian, 20 January]

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Tomorrow’s decision on new rules for allocating research funding could see some big names lose out

Posted in Research on January 20th, 2009 by steve

“Tomorrow, the broad principles determining what funding universities receive next year will be set. The final allocations for university funding in 2009-10 are not due until 4 March, but vice-chancellors are already lobbying for their financial futures. Around £1.5bn a year in research funding is at stake as officials at the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) work out what money will follow December’s research assessment exercise (RAE). The national project to judge the quality of British research revealed a much wider spread of top researchers than before ….” (more)

[Anthea Lipsett, Guardian, 20 January]

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Steering QR cash to elite could be a ‘mistake’

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on January 15th, 2009 by steve

“Research funding should be spread across a much wider range of universities than just the traditional research elite, an exclusive analysis suggests. The study by a leading economist tests the findings of the recent research assessment exercise on where the best work is being produced. Andrew Oswald of the University of Warwick echoed the RAE’s findings that truly world-class research is far from being the preserve of a small elite of large research universities. It is being produced by a broad range of universities and less-feted departments, he said. Admitting surprise at his findings – which were based on his own discipline, economics – he said that the results suggested that the modern obsession with ‘top’ departments should be rethought …” (more)

[John Gill, THE, 15 January]

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