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Funding Drop for Russel Group Unis. watch

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    I have heard it banded around that the Russel Group unis, in light of the most recent RAE exercise are expected to lose up to £100 million in funding. Can anyone explain to me how this is predicted if we won't really know until March? Is it simply because of the more egalitarian distribution of ratings that seems to have come about this time round?

    Cheers in advance for your help.

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    Well, that is what is being claimed, and yes it is due to the fact so called "world class" research is being performed in more universities though by only a handful of researchers in most cases.

    The fact is the Government is also under pressure to keep funding the research intensive universities at similar levels because the fact is UK plc is competing globally and only the top institutions have the power to do that.

    I doubt that the funding changes will be as drastic as some predictions based off the RAE alone suggest.

    I think the Times Higher Education did a few articles on it if you want to look.


    EDIT:

    here's one of their articles

    http://www.timeshighereducation.co.u...orycode=404800
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    (Original post by Dann)
    I have heard it banded around that the Russel Group unis, in light of the most recent RAE exercise are expected to lose up to £100 million in funding. Can anyone explain to me how this is predicted if we won't really know until March? Is it simply because of the more egalitarian distribution of ratings that seems to have come about this time round?
    Could it be that the gap in research 'quality' between those universities and others has decreased? Look at Leicester and Queen Mary in particular. In specialist big money fields, like medicine and biomed, the gap is essentially non-existent. Having said that, RAE is not by any means the sole predictor of research funding.
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    The RAE is a useful indicator, but its a can of worms if you try and make any predictions from it. QMUL may have jumped up the table, but there was some questions about selectivity. Glasgow and Lancaster dropped down on the 'research average', but they submitted almost all of their staff, compared to other Universities that picked and choosed to select their best. I was speaking to the Vice Dean of Faculty about this, and he says theres no way the government would get away with anything other than a nominal cut in funding, as the 5 year plans and such like which they were all encouraged to implement are based on lots of funding factors, so it'd be catastrophic if they suddenly announced a huge cut to the big universities funding.

    Bear in mind that even if this 100m is true, and assuming its split across the entire group (Oxbridge bring in nearly as much as the other 18), then we're potentially only talking about a drop of 3-4m per institution. Glasgow and Edinburgh made 142 and 149m in research income last year from all contracts, so I dont think 4m will make a massive difference in the long term.

    This 50m that London Met supposedly will be deducted due to statistic irregularites on the other hand, could really mean a Uni going down the pan.
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    (Original post by 0404343m)
    The RAE is a useful indicator, but its a can of worms if you try and make any predictions from it. QMUL may have jumped up the table, but there was some questions about selectivity. Glasgow and Lancaster dropped down on the 'research average', but they submitted almost all of their staff, compared to other Universities that picked and choosed to select their best. I was speaking to the Vice Dean of Faculty about this, and he says theres no way the government would get away with anything other than a nominal cut in funding, as the 5 year plans and such like which they were all encouraged to implement are based on lots of funding factors, so it'd be catastrophic if they suddenly announced a huge cut to the big universities funding.

    Bear in mind that even if this 100m is true, and assuming its split across the entire group (Oxbridge bring in nearly as much as the other 18), then we're potentially only talking about a drop of 3-4m per institution. Glasgow and Edinburgh made 142 and 149m in research income last year from all contracts, so I dont think 4m will make a massive difference in the long term.

    This 50m that London Met supposedly will be deducted due to statistic irregularites on the other hand, could really mean a Uni going down the pan.
    Interesting. Do you have any sources/links for this? I'd like to read more.

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    Which would you like? Theres lots of debates on the RAE results almost anywhere, THES mainly, thats also where the London Met story is. VCs and the like have written some articles recently, explaining their good or bad performance. The conv was in a meeting between me and Dr Thomas Munck, Vice Dean of Arts, University of Glasgow, I'm afraid you'll have to take my word on that one. Glasgow do have a 'building on excellence 2006-10' strategy which was implemented on accepted minimums from the government (the next strategy has also now been agreed), so if the RAE was horrendous, someone at government level would have to make up some of the shortfall to the minimum anyway.

    Also, its important to remember we cannot directly compare the old and new RAE system. a 5* dept may have been on the basis of a dozen world class members of staff, wheras the new one might have a dept with a higher average, but no world leaders. Lots of Universities will argue this if anyone tries to cut funding to a large degree, and since the Russell Group make up 75% of the UK cash turnover in Universities, I don't think they'll take too kindly to any drop, bearing in mind the amount of public sector money tied up in contracts for R+D at those Universities.

    To give a case study, look at History. Hertfordshire (2.95) has a higher 'average' than Cambridge, but submitted 10 staff to Cambridge's 102. Edinburgh claims its the best in Scotland because if you multiply the staff submitted by their average, you get the highest score. Glasgow and St Andrews claim they have a higher average, and submitted all their staff, so a larger dept cannot claim to be better on the basis of just having more staff at a lower average.

    Complex eh? No one believes Herts is better than Cam for history, in the same way Glasgow and St Andrews are seething Edinburgh have claimed supremacy with a lower score. I suspect the government know it isn't this clear cut either, so wont rush into a knee jerk reaction in cutting the funding away from the top 10 or 20 research Universities.
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    (Original post by Frodz)
    The fact is the Government is also under pressure to keep funding the research intensive universities at similar levels because the fact is UK plc is competing globally and only the top institutions have the power to do that.
    Why is it assumed that plowing all our research funding assets into a handful of universities the best way of doing research? Why is it assumed that there is a prize for having an institution that is 'competitive' in the 'world market'? If we are producing more high quality research from a more diverse range of institutions then we should be celebrating that. The stranglehold of a few institutions onto the lion's share of the research funding in this country encourages insularity and promotes the hegemony of senior researchers over the direction of research programmes in the future. We badly need more diversity within the academy and new universities provide great opportunities for young researchers to follow their own research programmes. Granted that in the new RAE submission numbers must be taken into account when allocating funding, but if a university has only one world class researcher, that department should be rewarded for it because they are doing some world class research, not simply ignored because they aren't one of the big boys. If there is an infinite pot of money then it will have to be spread around more thinly so the Russell group will probably lose out - tough - to do otherwise sends a clear message to researchers - 'You must fit in and you must work in the right institution or your research is worthless.' - that would be catastrophic.
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    (Original post by 0404343m)
    Which would you like? Theres lots of debates on the RAE results almost anywhere, THES mainly, thats also where the London Met story is. VCs and the like have written some articles recently, explaining their good or bad performance. The conv was in a meeting between me and Dr Thomas Munck, Vice Dean of Arts, University of Glasgow, I'm afraid you'll have to take my word on that one. Glasgow do have a 'building on excellence 2006-10' strategy which was implemented on accepted minimums from the government (the next strategy has also now been agreed), so if the RAE was horrendous, someone at government level would have to make up some of the shortfall to the minimum anyway.

    Also, its important to remember we cannot directly compare the old and new RAE system. a 5* dept may have been on the basis of a dozen world class members of staff, wheras the new one might have a dept with a higher average, but no world leaders. Lots of Universities will argue this if anyone tries to cut funding to a large degree, and since the Russell Group make up 75% of the UK cash turnover in Universities, I don't think they'll take too kindly to any drop, bearing in mind the amount of public sector money tied up in contracts for R+D at those Universities.

    To give a case study, look at History. Hertfordshire (2.95) has a higher 'average' than Cambridge, but submitted 10 staff to Cambridge's 102. Edinburgh claims its the best in Scotland because if you multiply the staff submitted by their average, you get the highest score. Glasgow and St Andrews claim they have a higher average, and submitted all their staff, so a larger dept cannot claim to be better on the basis of just having more staff at a lower average.

    Complex eh? No one believes Herts is better than Cam for history, in the same way Glasgow and St Andrews are seething Edinburgh have claimed supremacy with a lower score. I suspect the government know it isn't this clear cut either, so wont rush into a knee jerk reaction in cutting the funding away from the top 10 or 20 research Universities.
    I had not heard the London Met story before, so I was interested in that. Thank you for the case studies though, interesting, and as you say, complex stuff. Am I right in thinking that the research funding will be allocated partly based on percentage of staff submitted as well? I guess in that case, as you say, the posturing between universities is just an enactment of the very same problems the councils will face when splitting up that pot.

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    (Original post by Dann)
    I had not heard the London Met story before, so I was interested in that. Thank you for the case studies though, interesting, and as you say, complex stuff. Am I right in thinking that the research funding will be allocated partly based on percentage of staff submitted as well? I guess in that case, as you say, the posturing between universities is just an enactment of the very same problems the councils will face when splitting up that pot.

    :holmes:
    You are correct, yes. Theres a complex formula (which even the universities aren't sure of yet), which works out percentage of 4 and 3* staff, overall average, amount of staff submitted, and that percentage of the overall available for submission. This means a University might decide that it'd be more beneficial to withhold lots of junior staff, on the basis that a higher average and more 4 and 3* would be better for their cashpot. Others might (which Glasgow and St Andrews did) that by submitting all their staff, they'd get a larger pot but less per head, unless things went drastically wrong with some staff. As I was told: "We'd rather have as much money as possible to play with, as it wont be getting split equally among everyone anyway, so having less per head isn't an issue, we'd rather have the leeway".

    The flipside to this is, a potentially lower average, and a Hertfordshire claiming theyre better than Cambridge, St Andrews, Edinburgh and Glasgow at History. It doesn't make pretty reading on the league table in certain subjects, but when the money is diced up, the three Russell Group Universities above will still all be in the top 10 for income.

    It's another tirade on league tables, they really do do more harm than good.
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    (Original post by 0404343m)
    You are correct, yes. Theres a complex formula (which even the universities aren't sure of yet), which works out percentage of 4 and 3* staff, overall average, amount of staff submitted, and that percentage of the overall available for submission. This means a University might decide that it'd be more beneficial to withhold lots of junior staff, on the basis that a higher average and more 4 and 3* would be better for their cashpot. Others might (which Glasgow and St Andrews did) that by submitting all their staff, they'd get a larger pot but less per head, unless things went drastically wrong with some staff. As I was told: "We'd rather have as much money as possible to play with, as it wont be getting split equally among everyone anyway, so having less per head isn't an issue, we'd rather have the leeway".
    Have HEFCE confirmed their funding formula yet or is this just a bit of guesswork on the part of universities (that would explain the different approaches by different institutions)?
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    Can't speak for HEFCE I'm afraid, since I'm at a Scottish University. They were given a directive at the start, mainly an encouragement not to only submit a few staff, because this would be taken into account (I'm only going on as the student sitting in on the dept meeting and from my meetings with Dr Munck, one of my Ph.D referees), but also a high average and a percentage of staff in the top banding would be calculated when working out the allocation. From what I have gathered, they know which criteria will be used in calculating the final sum, but not what the weighting of each will be. The way some of the VCs have been talking at post 1992 Universities, they clearly feel that only putting a few senior members of staff into the submission was the best way to proceed. (QMU in Edinburgh went the other way though, and have the worst average in Britain overall.)

    The point is though, the league tables of averages in certain disciplines, or even overall, is misleading. Aside from Oxbridge, big multifaculty Universities all have their strengths and weaknesses. Its that tight between an average of 2.6 and 2.8, that just a quarter of your depts scoring 0.75 points less in the table could affect you by 20 places in the THES league. Glasgow for their part are sure that relative to the last assessment in 2001, they'll be better off than they were in the past for my discipline, despite THES insisting they only have the 20th highest average, or Edinburgh only have the 31st highest average and so on. So when it's all said and done, these small pockets of excellence will help in some newer universities, but it won't affect the overall funding hierarchy too much.
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    (Original post by ChemistBoy)
    Why is it assumed that plowing all our research funding assets into a handful of universities the best way of doing research?
    I never said it was the best way to do research, it is however the best way for the economy.

    (Original post by ChemistBoy)
    Why is it assumed that there is a prize for having an institution that is 'competitive' in the 'world market'?
    Because researchers are now even more mobile and will go where the funding is for them to complete their research. The recent departure of Neil Turok over the STFC debacle is clear evidence of that.
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    (Original post by Frodz)
    I never said it was the best way to do research, it is however the best way for the economy.
    In the short term. However, research is just as much about the long-term, what is best for the economy in the long term is to have a diverse range of research programmes where young researchers are not dominated by older academics (given that in almost every single case by the time an academic is in a position of power within the academy they have already performed their best work). This is difficult to achieve when you only put money into a handful of large departments. Why is is better? Because it provides breakthroughs to serious on often seemingly intractible problems. If we confine research funding to large traditional departments where there are many well-established senior academics we restrict research to the programmes they approve of because they hire and fire in these places, narrowing down our research focus to the whims of academic fashion slows down progress (e.g. theoretical physics).
    Because researchers are now even more mobile and will go where the funding is for them to complete their research. The recent departure of Neil Turok over the STFC debacle is clear evidence of that.
    Indeed they will, but they get their research in the UK primarily by responsive mode grants, irrespective of institution. The HEFCE RAE award is there to reward excellence with extra funds and thus give fruitful research programmes even more air to breathe - this reward should be placed where it is earned and diversity should be encouraged because it is the best way to create a healthy national research environment. Modelling the US research environment is very unhealthy - just look at what has happened in theoretical physics with the near hegemony of string theory over other research programmes despite there being no technical reason for this.

    However, Neil Turok's example is actually quite poor as he seems to have taken a funding decision too personally and perhaps he was attracted to the more free-thinking attitude and lack of teaching responsibilities that Lee Smolin and chums have created at perimeter. The STFC actually funds the multi-institutional big project science (such as accelerators and observatories) and the concerns he (and many other scientists have) are not that their institutions are losing out, but the whole country is losing out with the blundering accountancy that the creating of the STFC came along with. This is an entirely different argument to the issue of funding concentration within particular institutions in the UK as it is to do with funding levels over all for many high budget national projects.
 
 
 
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