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


Memorandum submitted by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales

  You asked us, firstly, to comment on any ways in which the operation of the RAE differs in Wales. As you will be aware, the RAE is undertaken as a joint exercise by all the UK funding bodies. It is governed by a single set of rules and procedures which apply throughout the UK, and there are no territorial differences. I understand that you have asked HEFCE to provide a memorandum about the operation of the RAE and I can confirm that, since the RAE is conducted on a UK-wide basis, the information provided in that memorandum will apply equally in Wales.

  You also asked how the outcomes of the RAE will inform the allocation of research funds in 2002. As in England, the Council's main research grant (QR) is allocated by a formula based on RAE ratings. I can confirm that, from 2002-03 onwards, the outcomes of the 2001 RAE will be used for the purposes of determining these allocations. The operation of the Council's research funding arrangements will, however, require revision in the light of the outcomes of the 2001 RAE, and this matter is to be considered by the Council at its February meeting. As in other parts of the UK, there has been a very significant improvement in institutions' performance in the 2001 RAE in Wales. I attach a copy of our press notice about this. The Council will determine how best to support this improved performance within its available funding.

  The Council has already agreed, as part of its recent review of research policy and funding, that it would, in principle, wish to maintain the rating of 3b as the entry point to QR funding, but that overriding priority should be given to funding 4, 5 and 5* rated departments at levels comparable with those of the rest of the UK. These principles will inform the recommendations on future research funding arrangements to be presented to the Council in February.

  I would, of course, be happy to provide you with more definite information about future funding arrangements once the necessary decisions have been taken by the Council.

  You also asked about how the RAE might operate in future alongside any other mechanisms for allocating research funding. The four UK higher education funding bodies are committed to undertaking a joint fundamental review of research assessment arrangements. We envisage that, beyond the period covered by the outcomes of the current RAE, the arrangements which emerge from the review will be used to provide assessments of research quality for use in determining the distribution of the Council's research funding. As you know, this funding is made available alongside the funding provided mainly by the Research Councils as part of the dual support system for research.

Steve Martin

Chief Executive, HEFCE

January 2002

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