The RAE: HEFCE Responses to the Report
of the House of Commons
Science and Technology Committee
1. On 25 April 2002 the House of Commons Select Committee
on Science and Technology on the Research Assessment Exercise
published its report into the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE).
This memorandum presents the response of the HEFCE to that report.
2. The Select Committee's report on the Research
Assessment Exercise (RAE) is a timely reminder of the importance
of the exercise, and the complexity surrounding the issues it
raises. We are committed to carrying out a review of the RAE,
and the Committee's report will provide a valuable contribution
to our review.
3. Nevertheless, we were disappointed that so much
of the Select Committee's conclusions were based on assertion
and on reports of views which had been expressed to it, without
supporting evidence. As we conduct our review we will need to
ensure that our conclusions, and our proposals for the future,
are based on sound analysis of the facts, and are supported by
4. In this memorandum, we take the 46 points made
by the Select Committee in their report, and provide a response
to each in turn.
Accuracy of the RAE results
Point 1. With such a spectacular increase
in RAE ratings, it is legitimate to ask whether the improvement
is a true reflection of the state of UK academic research and
its performance over the last five years. The evidence we have
received suggests that most in the science and education communities
agree with HEFCE's assertion that it is largely a reflection of
reality (paragraph 22).
5. We agree with this conclusion. In our memorandum
to the Select Committee we explained why we believed that there
had been a substantial improvement in research in this country
since 1996, relative to other countries, and we are glad that
the Select Committee has been persuaded by this evidence.
Point 2. There is concern about the noninclusion
of researchers. ... Funding should reflect the actual amount of
research and its quality over the whole department and not those
deemed active. Universities should have no incentive to omit any
researchers (paragraph 24).
6. What is at issue here is the fact that the RAE
allows institutions to submit only those staff they choose to
designate as research active
and to a lesser extent the fact that they are free to submit staff
to whichever unit of assessment (UoA) they deem most appropriate.
7. As the first to give evidence to the Select Committee,
we were taken aback by the strength of the Committee's presumption
that it was somehow illegitimate for institutions to be assessed
on a proportion of their staff. Some members, in particular the
Chair, seemed to consider this to be selfevident, to the
extent that it required neither explication nor justification.
We are glad that, in the light of subsequent hearings, the Committee
has developed an articulate case on this matter to which we can
8. In our view there are two issues here: the implications
for the validity of the assessment, and the unintended effects
of the discretion given to institutions upon researchers and the
research base. We concur with what we take to be the Committee's
view that the latter issue gives more cause for concern than the
former. We will be mindful of the Committee's findings in reviewing
the RAE but must be careful not to prejudge the case in advance
of our review.
The validity of the RAE results
9. It seems to us that giving institutions discretion
as to who is assessed enhances the validity of the result for
a. It means that strong research groups situated
in teaching departments alongside staff with relatively little
engagement in research can be recognised in funding where otherwise
their departments might fall beneath the threshold for the receipt
of funds. The Committee has expressed its concern at the concentration
of research in fewer and fewer departments: discretion actually
mitigates this effect.
b. It focuses the attention of panels (and indeed
the RAE administration) on those outputs considered most important.
Abolishing discretion would have the effect of increasing the
volume of material for assessment (and the logistical challenge
for institutional libraries as well as the RAE) to a level where
the quality of attention panels could give to each researcher's
work may be compromised.
c. We consider that something the Committee regards
as a games playing strategy - moving good researchers into units
where they will have the greatest effect upon ratings and funding
- is legitimate. If a world class researcher in a department rated
2 in 1996 (which would receive no funding) is moved to a department
which was rated 5 in 2001 this would mean that, quite properly
(s)he would attract funding to the institution. This does not
affect the integrity of the result - it actually enhances it.
d. Allowing institutions to choose where (as well
as whether) to submit individuals is more neutral than any central
decision on which individuals are to be submitted to which units
ever could be.
10. More generally, it is a fact that in the increasingly
diverse higher education sector there are significant numbers
of staff who do not undertake research and do not claim to do
so. This seems to us to be quite proper. We see no benefit in
requiring the submission for assessment of staff who do not claim
to do research: indeed it might have the perverse effect of putting
pressure on such staff to undertake research, at the expense of
their other commitments. In this respect, of course, the situation
is different from when the Universities Grant Commission (UGC)
and Universities Funding Council (UFC) undertook the Research
Assessment Exercise, where there was a reasonable presumption
that all staff in the institutions concerned undertook research
to some extent.
11. There is a different question of whether panels
should take into account the extent of research activity in a
department when giving grades. An extension of this is whether
the publication of the grades should somehow reflect the proportion
of staff submitted for assessment. These are all matters which
will be addressed in the review of the RAE.
Unintended effects of the RAE
12. There is however a strong case for detailed investigation
of the effects of the RAE upon the decisions taken by institutions
in relation to their staff and upon staff morale. Disentangling
the effects of the RAE from the effects of funding levels and
other pressures upon the sector is not as straightforward as it
may appear. We suspect that the RAE is often assumed (or claimed)
to be responsible for management decisions which are deemed necessary
for other reasons. Even if this is true, however it is still important
to understand the effects of the exercise in detail.
Point 3. There is concern that by moving researchers
between UoAs or splitting and merging departments universities
can improve ratings without any improvement in quality (paragraph
Point 4. There is concern that transfers between
institutions can distort the RAE results (paragraph 27).
13. There was (and we suspect, still is) a real difference
of opinion between the Committee and the HEFCE as to what constitutes
'gamesplaying'. The Committee appeared, for example, to
regard submitting fewer than 100 per cent of staff as a means
of cheating or outwitting the system. In the last answer we attempt
to refute this notion (as noted above, the Committee's implied
argument that selective inclusion of staff may affect management
practice within institutions for the worse, is in our view a more
serious charge, which we will examine).
Point 5. There are concerns about the way
the panels operated and their membership (paragraph 28).
14. We do not accept the Select Committee's suggestion
that panel members were drawn from a narrow range of interests.
It is worth reminding the Select Committee of the steps taken
in the last exercise to appoint panels. The panel chair was elected
by the outgoing panel, not appointed by the Funding Councils as
in previous exercises. Advertisements were placed to seek nominations
for panel members. 1,500 bodies - representing a very wide range
of interests - made nominations, and panel chairs were obliged
to select members of the panels from these nominations, having
regard to the spread of knowledge and expertise required for the
panel to operate effectively. Perhaps more could have been done
to ensure an even greater range of interests on the panels, but
we know of no exercise where more strenuous steps are taken to
ensure appropriate membership of peer review bodies.
15. As far as user members of panels are concerned,
there are lessons to be learned from the different approaches
to the engagement of users adopted by different panels. In general,
there was far more engagement by user representatives in the 2001
exercise than in previous exercises, and there is a consensus
that this was a welcome development. The Committee is absolutely
right to suggest that the time commitment is a particularly important
issue for nonacademics. It may be possible to develop special
arrangements for user input, or it may be that the only workable
solution is to change the process to reduce the time commitment
across the board so as to enable greater user involvement.
Point 6. We recommend that, in any future
RAE, HEFCE provide panel members with more effective administrative
support. Ensuring the validity of the results is money well spent
16. As regards administrative support, we agree with
the Committee that this is a very important exercise, and we must
ensure that sufficient resources are devoted to it. We will learn
whatever lessons are to be learned in this respect from the experience
of the 2001 RAE.
Point 7. With the above reservations, we accept
the widespread view that the RAE ratings reflect an improvement
in UK higher education research (paragraph 31).
17. This is covered in the answers given above.
Effects of the RAE
Point 8. Most of the evidence we have received
has suggested that the RAE has had a broadly beneficial effect
on research in the UK (paragraph 32).
18. We welcome the Committee's view that the RAE
has had a broadly beneficial effect, and we concur.
Point 9. We have heard of concerns that the
RAE has imposed large costs and bureaucracy on universities, hampered
teaching, distorted research practice, led to neglect of universities'
other activities and severely damaged academics' morale (paragraph
19. It is not clear if the Committee is here merely
reporting hearsay, or stating its conclusion. If the former, then
it would be good to know the Committee's conclusion. If the latter,
then it would have been helpful to have evidence to support the
Committee's conclusion. These are serious allegations, and we
will be seeking evidence for them in the course of the review
of the RAE. In general, though, we accept that research funding
is much more competitive than funding for other activities, and
that this provides an incentive to focus excessively on research.
Institutions undoubtedly go to great lengths to present themselves
as well as they can, and this leads to greater effort being expended
on the exercise than is strictly necessary.
Point 10. If HEFCE believes in the value of
the RAE, it should establish clearly how much it costs and show
why it is worth it. We recommended that, as part of its review
of the RAE, HEFCE establish with accuracy the cost of RAE 2001
and publish costings and an explanation of how these were calculated
20. We will certainly seek to establish the costs
of RAE 2001 and publish an account both of the findings and the
Point 11. The RAE has undoubtedly brought
benefits but it has also caused collateral damage. It has damaged
staff careers and it has distracted universities from their teaching,
community and economic development roles. Higher education should
encourage excellence in all these areas, not just in research.
Universities should be assessed on a balance scorecard (paragraph
21. Again, we would be interested to have evidence
for the assertion that universities have been distracted from
their teaching, community and economic development roles. On the
contrary, there is good evidence that the quality of teaching
in higher education has improved, as has the extent of interaction
with business and the community. We believe that higher education
institutions are to be congratulated on the extent and breadth
of their achievements not just in research. We do agree
with the Committee, though, that we should encourage excellence
across the range of a higher education institution's activities,
and we are considering what incentives we should put in place
to balance the incentive to carry out excellent research.
Point 12. Some of the most outstanding achievements
in UK science have resulted from long periods of research with
no outputs ... We are concerned that the RAE process may discourage
longterm research of a highly speculative nature and stifle
scientific breakthroughs (paragraph 37).
22. We agree with the Select Committee that it is
essential to the continuing health of the research base that longterm
work, and work of a speculative nature, are not discouraged. This
is one aspect of our review to which we will be paying particular
Point 13. While we accept that publication
practice is somewhat different in the humanities, we believe that
the shorter period of assessment for the sciences discriminates
against scientists involved in longterm research. We suggest
that seven years would be a more reasonable period of assessment
for the sciences as well as the humanities (paragraph 38).
23. We find this recommendation surprising, and it
flies in the face of much of the evidence we have received. When
the longer publication period was introduced for the humanities,
most scientists - and social scientists to a lesser extent - who
responded to the consultation said that they thought that the
requirement for four good publications in five years was an entirely
reasonable expectation, in contrast to the humanities where the
nature and pattern of publications is quite different. However,
this is something we will look at again in our review.
Point 14. We recommend that HEFCE ensure that
its quality assessment does not discourage or disadvantage interdisciplinary
research. Such research offers some of the most fertile ground
for innovation and discovery (paragraph 39).
Point 15. We recommend that HEFCE keep unit
boundaries under review to ensure that subjects of increasing
importance are fairly assessed (paragraph 40).
24. Both these issues will be considered in our review
of the RAE.
Morale and careers
Point 16. It is clear that the RAE has had
a negative effect on university staff morale. Any future research
assessment mechanism must be able to give a fair appraisal of
the research without tempting universities to continue the divisive
and demoralising practice of excluding some academics from the
process (paragraph 41).
25. As noted above, whilst we do not accept that
giving institutions discretion over who they submit affects the
validity of the results, we do accept that we have a responsibility
to consider the effect upon staff morale and management decisions
concerning staff. We will do this as part of the RAE review.
Point 17. We welcome HEFCE's imminent research
project into women in higher education research and recommend
that it should analyse RAE data as part of this study. It is vital
that women's research careers are not further impeded (paragraph
26. We, in turn, welcome the Select Committee's recognition
of the importance of the work we are carrying out. We have to
be as certain as we can be that the RAE processes do not unwittingly
give rise to unwarranted discrimination.
Point 18. The RAE may not be the primary cause
of departmental closures [in science and engineering] but we suspect
that it is a contributory factor. Nationally important research
that makes a major contribution to the economy must not be destroyed
because of trend in student demand (paragraph 44).
27. We do not understand what point is being made
here. The RAE provides a mechanism for allowing continued funding
for excellent research, even if student numbers are falling.
Point 19. In our view, it is better to address
national research priorities through a funding mechanism rather
than by tinkering with the assessment process. HEFCE should protect
or enhance key research areas by changing the cost weightings
for some UoAs or by introducing ringfenced funding (paragraph
28. The Select Committee is absolutely right that
the function of the assessment process should be to identify high
quality, not to establish national priorities. Within the dual
support system, it is the Research Councils, along with charities
and industry, which set national research priorities, not HEFCE.
If this leads to universities doing more research in those subjects
identified as priorities, then this will be reflected in the volume
weights, and consequently in the funding we provide for those
subjects. We believe that this is preferable to tinkering with
the cost weights, as the Committee recommends.
Neglect of teaching and other university activities
Point 20. The RAE, and the funding decisions
based on it, create incentives for universities that could lead
to them neglecting other areas of their functions: teaching; community
involvement; commercial activity; and research of local or regional
significance. This may have major implications for the nature
of UK universities (paragraph 46).
Point 21. It is not for the RAE to reward
teaching, but there must be a counterincentive to promote
good teaching and encourage good teachers. We believe that there
must be financial incentives for improving the quality of teaching
but that the burden and the problems of measuring teaching quality
are such that funding based on it should be a last resort. HEFCE
and universities must work together to provide wellpaid
and prestigious career positions for academics who are primarily
teachers (paragraph 49).
29. We fully accept the Committee's view on these
matters. HEFCE is currently developing its strategic plan for
2003 8 and is committed to using that process to explore
practical ways of ensuring that excellence in all activities is
properly incentivised and rewarded.
Point 22. We are supportive of highquality
teaching in a highquality research environment and find
it hard to see how this can be reconciled with the concept of
a teachingonly university (paragraph 51).
Point 23 If the best researchers are concentrated
in a small number of departments, we risk losing the next generation
of scientists. At a time when Government is concerned about the
supply of scientists in the economy, HEFCE should be encouraging
highquality research wherever there is teaching (paragraph
30. On these matters we have, with regret, to dissent
from the Committee's position. If the Committee is saying that
highquality teaching cannot take place unless alongside
highquality research, then we know of no evidence for this,
and it would have been helpful if the Committee had provided the
evidence which leads to its conclusion. Indeed, such evidence
as we are aware of suggests that it is quite possible for good
teaching to flourish where little research takes place. It is
essential that all academic staff should undertake scholarship
and remain fully abreast of their subject and its frontiers as
these develop. That, however, is different from the assertion
that in order to teach well they need themselves to be pushing
forward the frontiers of knowledge in their subjects.
31. There is a further dimension to this issue. The
Treasuryapproved accounting procedures used in the Transparency
Review showed UK research in 19992000 to be in deficit by
a total of £1.35 billion, with most of this deficit being
in publicly funded research. In the light of these losses (significantly
greater than the combined research budgets of the UK Funding Councils)
and unless funding for research increases substantially, it seems
to us axiomatic that the volume of research has to reduce. It
is the very commitment to research - a professional commitment
which often overrides economic considerations - which risks compromising
the financial health of universities (the symptom of which is
an unsustainable erosion in infrastructure and in staff pay and
Point 24. We are concerned that the pressures
placed on academics, not least through the RAE, make community
involvement less likely (paragraph 53).
32. We fully accept that, as we try to develop proper
rewards for excellence in activities other than research, community
engagement must be included.
Point 25. We recommend that, in its review
of the RAE, HEFCE consider the impact of the RAE on knowledge
transfer activity, and investigate whether panels have accorded
due status to industrial research outputs. The Government wishes
to encourage industrial collaboration and the commercialisation
of research, and HEFCE must ensure that the RAE does not undermine
this (paragraph 54).
33. The RAE is a process hitherto intended solely
to identify research quality. It must give full recognition to
research which is of benefit to users, and we have sought to ensure
that high quality is recognised, whatever the nature of the research.
But it is not a process designed to recognise the utility of research.
We agree that knowledge transfer is important, and we have sought
to recognise that through the establishment of our third funding
stream. We are at present considering how to measure the quality
of third stream activity, and we will consult further about this
as soon as we are able. In the meantime, we agree with the Select
Committee that our review of the RAE must ensure that any future
process does not undermine the efforts we are making to encourage
knowledge transfer of all sorts.
34. We would note in passing that the Committee speaks
of 'industrial collaboration and commercialisation' but not of
other activities which link researchers with the community. It
is vital that the activities which rebound most directly to the
public benefit - engagement with public sector professions and
the community - are not excluded from any change of policy which
seeks to reward researchers for being more outwardlooking.
Point 26. The Government may need to intervene
to ensure that research excellence is represented in the regions
of the UK, perhaps by encouraging regional networks in important
subjects (paragraph 55).
35. The Committee is right to note that there is
no regional dimension to our research funding. It would be possible
to introduce a regional dimension into our funding model, if this
were thought important for policy reasons, but this would imply
in some cases taking funding away from units deemed to be of higher
quality and giving more to units judged of lower quality, because
of their location.
Point 27. Research into matters of local importance
can be vital to communities and the economy. If the RAE cannot
recognise such work a mechanism needs to be identified that will
36. As mentioned above, the RAE is concerned only
with quality. It can recognise all types of research, and there
is no reason why research which takes as its focus local issues
cannot achieve high grades.
Point 28. HEFCE should monitor levels of investment
in infrastructure carefully and if necessary introduce a recurrent
funding stream (paragraph 57).
37. We agree with the recommendation in principle
but note its cost implications.
Funding the RAE
Point 29. We believe that HEFCE was right
to use RAE2001 [to determine the research funding for 200303]:
if you have a selective mechanism for funding it should reflect
the current state of research. But we take issue with the way
the cake was cut (paragraph 69).
38. The Committee is, presumably, saying that it
disagrees with the degree of selectivity we have adopted in allocating
research funding. We can assure the Committee that our decisions
were reached only after the most careful consideration. We have
also said that, if additional funds become available, our priority
will be to increase the funding provided to units rated 5 and
Point 30. We recommend that the Government
introduce and resource a seedcorn fund to stimulate the development
of research in new departments, as part of a strategic framework
for research funding (paragraph 71).
39. We agree that there is a strong case for a fund
to encourage the development of research capability where this
is weak at present. Subject to the availability of funds, we have
said previously that we would intend to create such a fund.
Point 31. We recommend that HEFCE introduce
a more sophisticated weighting system, which accurately reflects
the high costs of research in certain scientific subjects (paragraph
40. The Committee makes the assumption that a 'more
sophisticated' system would change the funding weights. These
at present reflect the relative costs of conducting research in
different disciplines, as reported to us by institutions in their
financial monitoring returns. These weights are kept under review,
and if it becomes apparent that further changes are needed, then
we can assure the Committee that these will be made.
Point 32. In their evidence to us, HEFCE seemed
to believe that any side effects of the RAE were unfortunate and
somehow nothing to do with them. If HEFCE has a mechanism for
selective research funding then it must take responsibility for
any distortions (paragraph 58).
41. We can assure the Committee that we accept fully
the need to take into account all of the effects of our policies
and processes, and if an impression to the contrary has being
given, then this is very much to be regretted.
Point 33. While HEFCE cannot be blamed for
the level of funding that is available for higher education research,
it must bear primary responsibility for the way the RAE funding
deficit has been handled (paragraph 74).
42. We accept full responsibility for our funding
Point 34. Some responsibility for the funding
decisions must lie with the DfES and with the Minister for Lifelong
Learning and Higher Education. The RAE and the funding decisions
based on it have major repercussions for the higher education
system. We find it hard to believe that the Minister is prepared
to delegate all of that power to an unelected quango. It cannot
be in the public interest that she should do so (paragraph 75).
43. The decision to establish the Funding Councils
was that of Parliament, as were the functions given respectively
to the Government and to the Funding Councils.
Point 35. The DfES must also bear responsibility
for the financial dilemma which HEFCE has been facing. We appreciate
that the Government has a number of priorities in education, but
it must not lose sight of the need to maintain and develop an
excellent research base. We welcome the Minister's commitment
to fight for a generous settlement for higher education in the
Spending Review (paragraph 76).
44. We share the Select Committee's welcome for the
Point 36. We fully accept that higher education
is the responsibility of DfES, not of DTI, but we would suggest
that the Cabinet Minister for Science should take a closer interest
in the RAE and in the funding of higher education research, since
it is vitally important to the future of science and technology
in the UK (paragraph 77).
45. This recommendation does not relate to HEFCE.
We note however, that the roles of the various governmental stakeholders
in the decisionmaking process would need to be very clearly
Point 37. Discussions about the mechanism
for the allocation for research funding are largely meaningless
unless the underfunding of university research is addressed.
There is a strong case for a substantial increase in the HE research
budget. This should not be less than the £200 million a year
required to fund RAE2001 using the formula employed until recently
and to restore the project funding/QR ration to 199394 levels.
Borne in mind should be the chronic underfunding in university
research for much longer than this (paragraph 78).
Point 38. We welcome the science and research
crosscutting review and trust that it will spell out clearly
for the Treasury the value of science and engineering research
and its present parlous state of underfunding ... UK university
research is already among the best in the world without the funding
it deserves. The Spending Review 2000 brought great benefits for
the Science Budget. Now has come the time to put right the imbalance
in the dual support system by delivering a significant increase
in funding for higher education research (paragraph 79).
46. The quantum of the funding provided for research
is a matter for the Government not HEFCE, but we welcome the Select
Committee's comments about this. In particular, we stress the
importance of having an appropriate ratio between project funding
and the funds provided by the Funding Council.
Options for the future
Point 39. It is generally agreed that the
RAE has achieved all it can in its present form. The question
is whether we abandon it completely or whether it could form part
of a broader funding mechanism for higher education research (paragraph
Point 40. We are not persuaded that research
assessments should rely entirely on success in obtaining Research
Council grants (paragraph 82).
Point 41. It is generally agreed that there
is a future for the RAE, but not in its current form. We need
an RAE with a lighter touch (paragraph 83).
Point 42. We recommend that the RAE should
take place every six years, with interim assessment as requested
by developing departments or as considered necessary by HEFCE
Point 43. We believe that the RAE should continue
but only as a part of a broader higher education research funding
strategy in which its side effects and disadvantages are offset
by other mechanisms. We suggest the following model for discussion.
HEFCE's research budget could be divided into four sections -
- Funding excellence.
Toprated departments would be exempted from the formal research
assessment process if they wish [and funded on their ability
to attract external funding].
- Promoting new centres of excellence.
Other departments could continue to take part in a research assessment
- Developing research capacity.
Departments taking part in the research assessment process could
apply for development money through a bidding process and would
be assessed by subject panels based upon the RAE UoAs.
- Fostering external collaborative research.
This fund would support the indirect costs of institutions attracting
external project funding [for departments entering the formal
assessment process] (paragraph 86).
Point 44. This model of research funding could
operate within a broader system of higher education funding which
provides incentives for excellence in all areas of universities'
activities: teaching, community and economic involvement as well
as research. The aim should be to produce a coherent funding system,
with a small number of flexible funds (paragraph 88).
Point 45. No doubt the Funding Councils' review
of the RAE will consider a range of options for the future. We
await its outcome with great interest, since it will have important
implications for the future of science and technology in the UK.
An effective funding mechanism for research infrastructures will
be crucial if we are to maintain and enhance the UK's research
excellence and exploit it successfully. It is essential that DfES,
the Funding Councils, the devolved administrations, OST, and the
Research Councils work closely together to ensure that the funding
to the science base is coherent and adequate to maintain the quality
of UK research. We shall follow developments closely and, if necessary,
report again to the House (paragraph 89).
47. We will consider the Select Committee's recommendations
as part of the review of the RAE. We note that the Select Committee's
proposals are ambitious and we will need also to consider their
48. We recognise fully the need for a research funding
strategy which brings together all major funders of research,
and we agree with the Select Committee that all the major funders
of research will need to cooperate to ensure that the funding
of the science base is coherent and adequate to maintain the quality
of UK research.
Debate in the House of Commons
Point 46. We suggest the following motion
for debate by the House:
'That this House commends the higher education
sector for the marked improvement in research quality demonstrated
by the Research Assessment Exercise 2001; takes note of the conclusions
and recommendations in the Second Report of the Science and Technology
Committee on the Research Assessment Exercise (HC 507); notes
the concerns reflected in that Report on the impact of the RAE
on research priorities and on universities' other functions; acknowledges
the vital contribution which higher education research in science
and technology makes to society and to the economy; and calls
on the Government to fund the RAE results fully in the forthcoming
Spending Review' (paragraph 90).
49. We welcome the Select Committee's suggestion
of a debate in the House of Commons. This is an important topic
which should be widely debated at the highest levels.
1 NB. Whilst HEFCE is responsible for conducting the
RAE, it does so on behalf of the four UK funding bodies (HEFCE,
HEFCW, SHEFC and DELNI). When considering the future of the RAE,
therefore, our comments should be taken to refer to HEFCE's input
into discussions on the future of the exercise and should not
be taken to imply that HEFCE is in a position to change the RAE
without reference to the other funding bodies. Back
It is disingenuous to suggest, as some have, that the term 'research
active staff' is anything other than a technical term for those
the institution chooses to include in the assessment. HEFCE is
aware of the concern that the term may be misunderstood by those
unfamiliar with the RAE process as indicating whether or not an
individual is engaged in research. It also accepts that the mere
existence of this concern represents a strong argument for not
employing the term in future. However the notion that there is
a lack of appreciation within the HE sector of the
term's true meaning seems to us to be an extremely improbable
one. Equally the use of the term 'research active staff' cannot
be taken to imply that the RAE is intended to assess all
research and is not relevant to the question of whether it ought
to do so. Back