Memorandum from Dr Robert Leeming
The HEFCE's research funding formulae will have
a devastating effect on emerging research groups and those who
are striving to move upwards. The bulk of funding will go to those
who have proved themselves in the past but that is no guarantee
for the future. Unfortunately we are stuck with this as private
research funding is becoming increasingly international with global
economics. Inevitably this will lead to fewer research groups
in fewer universities and less likelihood of novelty. Research
groups usually start with one good idea then proceed from innovative
research to pot-boilers. They should stand on their present merit
and potential difficult to put into practise as the peer review
system is not without serious flaws.
In tertiary education, the value of research
is that it gives enthusiasm to the teaching process which can
otherwise become depressingly stale.
Regional distribution is not of paramount importance,
England is small and people are mobile. However, the juxtaposition
of mathematics and physics also chemistry and biology in any single
university must be put into the context of its curriculum. Molecular
biology (for example) and biochemistry are not exclusively contained
by what are generally understood to be biology and chemistry.
The basic sciences (chemistry, physics mathematics
and biology) are of strategic importance economically and the
only way they can be strengthened is by subsidising students fees
and/or selective funding of universities teaching them. The cost
to the country of the proliferation of "Media Studies"
"Psychology" "Forensic Science" and the effect
on the graduates when they find their degrees have no market value
is deplorable. That money could be put to better use.
I am retired from my several University attachments
but retain an honorary post as: Honorary Senior Clinical Fellow,
Clinical Chemistry, Children's Hospital, Birmingham.