Top universities fight to keep lion’s share of research money

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on January 14th, 2009 by steve

“Leading universities are fighting behind the scenes to hang on to their share of research funding in the next round of financial allocations in March. The Russell group of large research-intensive universities, which for decades has had the lion’s share of research funding, says it risks ‘haemorrhaging money’ in allocations made after the results of last month’s research assessment exercise (RAE) … At present, 82% of research funding in England goes to just 29 universities. The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) is now working out a funding formula to allocate research cash to English universities based on the outcome of the RAE …” (more)

[Anthea Lipsett, Guardian, 14 January]

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Elite v-cs fear ‘end of road’ for concentration of research

Posted in Research on January 2nd, 2009 by steve

“The elite research-intensive universities could lose significant amounts of their research funding to teaching-focused universities after the results of the research assessment exercise last month. This is the fear of vice-chancellors in the large research-led Russell Group of universities after the 2008 RAE highlighted ‘world-leading’ (4*) research right across the sector – including in post-1992 institutions and some that were awarded university status only in the past two or three years. The RAE, which for the first time showed the ‘research profile’ of every department instead of providing a summative grade, found at least some world-leading research, often in small pockets, in 150 of the 159 universities that entered …” (more)

[Zoë Corbyn, THE, 1 January]

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QUB – Officially an Esteemed University at the Top

Posted in Governance and administration on December 26th, 2008 by steve

“With the recent release of the UK-wide Research Assessment Exercise, QUB has been celebrating its success as a leading University in the UK. A member of the esteemed Russell Group, QUB can now boast that it has been firmly placed in the top 20 universities in the UK in terms of research …” (more)

[The Gown, 24 December]

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The insanity of RAE

Posted in Governance and administration, Research on December 21st, 2008 by steve

“Those happy souls who live in the real world will not know that last Thursday saw the culmination of nonsense on stilts in the British university world — the release of the latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) results. In a nutshell, RAE is the extension of ‘targets’ and bean-counting to the world of ideas, and it’s a crazy system. In one major academic department I know, the most creative and original member of the department was excluded from the RAE by his colleagues because his pathbreaking work ‘didn’t fit the narrative’ — i.e. the story being carefully crafted to impress the bean counters. The mainstream media know nothing of this, however …” (more)

[John Naughton, Memex 1.1, 21 December]

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RAE 2008 results prompt a flurry of analysis

Posted in Governance and administration, Research on December 18th, 2008 by steve

“After a seven-year wait, and with academic fingernails bitten to the quick, the results of the Research Assessment Exercise 2008 were finally released, prompting an unseemly scramble as universities vied to stake their claims as the best and the brightest. While there was general consensus with the Times Higher Education’s ranking of the University of Cambridge as the top performer, including in the Financial Times, the position of other institutions varied from league table to league table …” (more)

[John Gill, THE, 18 December]

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UK Research Assessment – some additional observations

Posted in Governance and administration, Research on December 18th, 2008 by steve

“From the perspective of the UK universities, the outcome of the Research Assessment Exercise is significant in two different ways. First, the RAE has perhaps the greatest impact on reputation of all metrics used to compile league tables; there is evidence that event student choices are heavily influenced by them. Secondly, they help to determine state funding (though the precise impact of these latest results on money is not yet known). In past RAEs there has been some conflict between these two factors, as institutions struggled to work out how best to maximise both money and reputation in the decisions about how many staff to enter: if you entered more staff and scored well, the financial benefits were highest – but if the gamble failed and you scored badly, the negative impact on reputation could be immense. It was all essentially a gamble …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 18 December]

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RAE 2008: Results and rankings

Posted in Governance and administration, Research on December 18th, 2008 by steve

“RAE 2008 results are now out (effective 18 December 2008). Many, many ways to calculate rankings from the data but arguably the most authoritative and convincing one comes from Research Fortnight: …” (more)

[Registrarism, 18 December]

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Call to scrap peer review in hunt for brilliant ideas

Posted in Governance and administration, Research on December 18th, 2008 by steve

“Peer review of academic journal papers should be abolished and teaching-focused lecturers should be encouraged to give up research under proposals seeking to ensure that academe continues to produce ‘paradigm-shifting’ research. The plans are put forward by Donald Gillies, a professor of the philosophy of science and mathematics at University College London, in his new book, How Should Research be Organised? Published this week to coincide with the publication of the results of the 2008 research assessment exercise (RAE), the book argues that the current system, under which more than £1.5 billion a year is distributed to universities, has damaged research quality …” (more)

[Zoe Corbyn, THE, 18 December]

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Research assessment

Posted in Governance and administration, Research on December 18th, 2008 by steve

“Today is December 18th, and the UK Research Assessment Exercise results are published. The RAE website is here, and the full results can be read or downloaded here. I have had a rather cursory glance at these, and there appear to be some surprising results, with some older universities doing less well than expected. The Northern Ireland universities, as far as I can see, have at least in some subjects fared well. I shall try to present a more informed view of the results when I have studied them more closely …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 18 December]

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Government must fully fund RAE results, says UCU

Posted in Governance and administration, Research on December 18th, 2008 by steve

“UCU said today that academic and academic-related staff were to be congratulated for their hard work following the publication of the RAE results. The union added that the government must recognise that high quality research is widely distributed throughout UK institutions and rewarded with proper funding. However, UCU said it was not alone in having concerns about the RAE process and warned institutions not to use what they may perceive as low scores as an excuse to downsize or consider redundancies …” (more)

[Dan Ashley, UCU, 18 December]

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RAE 2008: The results

Posted in Governance and administration, Research on December 18th, 2008 by steve

“As the findings of the final research assessment exercise are released, Times Higher Education has devised tables of excellence to rank institutions according to their subject successes and their overall quality. A new order for research excellence has been established across institutions and disciplines for the first time in seven years, as the results of the 2008 research assessment exercise are made public this week. And while there are no massive changes to the overall research landscape – the biggest research-intensive universities are still clustered at the top of the table of excellence, followed by the smaller research-intensive institutions – there is certainly some significant individual movement …” (more)

[Zoe Corbyn, THE, 18 December]

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Message 1: ‘RAE2008 confirms UK’s dominant position in international research’

Posted in Governance and administration, Research on December 18th, 2008 by steve

“Like the launch of a spaceship at Cape Canaveral, the UK Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) is being prepared for full release. The press release was loaded up 14 minutes ago (and is reprinted below). Careers, and department futures, will be made or broken when the results emerge in 46 minutes. Note how they frame the results ever so globally; indeed far more so than in previous RAEs. I’ll be reporting back tomorrow when the results are out, and I’ve had a chance to unpack what ‘international’ means, and also assess just how ‘international’ the make-up of the review panels — both the main and sub-panels — is (or is not), and what types of international registers were taken into account when assessing ‘quality’. In short, can one self-proclaim a ‘dominant position’ in the international research landscape, and if so on what basis? Leaving aside the intra-UK dynamics (and effects) at work here, this RAE is already (judging from the press release) turning out to be a mechanism to position a research nation within the global research landscape. But for what purpose? …” (more)

[GlobalHigherEd, 17 December]

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The long wait is (almost) over

Posted in Fees, access and admissions, Research on December 17th, 2008 by steve

“As the clock ticks down to midnight, more than 50,000 academics across the UK wait to see how their research rates in comparison with their rivals (sorry, colleagues) in their fields. They already know how they themselves have been judged by the expert panels of the Research Assessment Exercise 2008 and are basking in the approval of their peers – or smarting from a crass failure to see the value of their research work over the past four years. But at midnight the results are made public on Guardian.co.uk/education and other websites and they can see how they have fared against the competition. With passions running high one vice-chancellor confessed that he felt as if he had staked the family inheritance on the 3.15 at Wincanton. There will be some sore heads in the morning …” (more)

[Donald MacLeod, Guardian, 17 December]

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RAE results may not reflect true quality of UK research, warns chair

Posted in Research on December 4th, 2008 by steve

“Academics should be ‘very careful’ in the conclusions they draw from the research assessment exercise about the quality of research in their disciplines, the chair of an assessment panel has warned. The results of RAE 2008 will be published in full in Times Higher Education on 18 December. They will determine the allocation of more than £1 billion a year in research funding and establish a new pecking order for research excellence. But a chair of one of the 15 main RAE panels this week told Times Higher Education that academics could expect some “amazingly poor” showings in subject areas in which the UK was actually very good. Impressive showings are also likely in areas where the UK is relatively weak …” (more)

[Zoe Corbyn, THE, 4 December]

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