Memorandum from Cranfield University
1. As the UK's only wholly postgraduate,
technological specialist institution we welcome the UK government's
commitment to diversity in the mission of UK HEIs. However, there
is no doubt that the RAE and its impact on HEFCE's research funding
currently runs counter to such a position. The mode 1 "blue-skies"
focus of RAE to date, impacts significantly on institutions such
as Cranfield, whose mission includes substantial mode 2 research
with the aim of transferring knowledge into real and viable applications.
The inevitable consequence is impact on the financial viability
of departments which play a key role in the future wealth creation
of our nation. Such institutions can respond to this by either
distorting their institutional mission, to "play" the
RAE academic game, or maintain mission and suffer significant
financial and potentially reputational losses due to middle RAE
gradings. HEFCE has made public undertakings that mode 2 research
will be more highly valued in RAE2008, however there is still
disquiet regarding how this will be achieved. Major bodies such
as the Royal Academy of Engineering have offered intelligent ways
forward for RAE2008, and we welcome in particular, the RAEng approach
as it will enhance the mission of research intensive "Lambert"
institutions, such as Cranfield, who choose to support the future
economy of the UK, rather than simply carry out "blue sky"
mode 1 research. A reconfigured RAE2008 and its impact on HEFCE's
research funding method will result in financial recognition of
such distinctive missions and support the financial viability
of these institution's departments.
2. Whilst recognising that financial support
for research in HEIs is limited, we see serious issues concerning
any move to planned research concentration and the basis on which
decisions on concentration are made. The challenge for policymakers
is that the ground-breaking science and technology we need for
the future UK economy is simply not just an evolution from that
in current highly funded institutions. The UK therefore needs
to maintain a breadth and diversity of mission in its research
intensive HEIs. Equally, any move to concentration seems focussed
entirely on mode 1/RAE metrics which miss key elements of the
UK's research base (as discussed in point one above).
3. We have no comment to make on weightings
in the HEFCE funding formula.
4. As a wholly postgraduate institution
we recognise the imperative of research informing education at
this level and cannot envisage substantial science/technology
PG education being conducted in `teaching only' departments.
5. The regional context of HEIs is diverse
and complex. Our view is that regional outreach is not independent
of leading-edge research, but that these elements are interdependent.
It is therefore imperative that regions have access to HEIs with
leading-edge research departments which in a complimentary manner
can provide technological outreach to regional commerce, as well
as high class education to their communities. The issue of maintaining
regional capacity as far as Cranfield sees it is much more one
of unevenness of funding between regions, rather than one of lack
of capacity or will to engage.
6. As a market-led specialist institution
we wish to make no response on the subject of government intervention.