Memorandum from the Joint Committee for
Resources in Higher Education
I am writing in my capacity as Chair of the
Joint Committee for Resources in Higher Education. The Joint Committee
is the umbrella group for the three main bodies that represent
British Psychology: The British Psychological Society, (with over
40,000 members), the Experimental Psychology Society (with 600
members) and the Association of Heads of Psychology Departments
representing (over 100 Departments).
We wish to submit comments in relation to the
call for evidence for the inquiry into the steps being taken to
safeguard an adequate level of science teaching and research across
universities in England. Accordingly, attached are two responses,
one prepared by the Research Board of the British Psychological
Society and the other prepared by the Experimental Psychology
Society (which has already been submitted to you directly by the
EPS). The Association of Heads of Psychology Departments has not
prepared a separate response but it is supportive of the general
comments outlined in the BPS and EPS submissions.
We wish to draw your attention to the following
common themes of both submissions:
1. The RAE-linked funding formula will continue
to produce substantial effects on the quality of HE provision
in this countrythe impact of which will be felt by students,
academic staff and ultimately society. The funding formula has
become overly weighted towards 5* and 5 rated departments.
2. We believe that increased concentration
of researchers in a small number of university departments would
have serious consequences for research, due to the potential lack
of recognition of excellent individuals who may not be employed
at these "centres of excellence", which may stifle creativity
and scientific development. This may in turn, result in increasing
problems of attracting good young researchers into academia as
the number of positions that are available to them diminishes.
3. We believe that concentrating top researchers
in just a few university departments would seriously impact on
the quality of teaching that would be afforded to the undergraduate
and postgraduate populations, with consequent implications for
the research base of this country.
4. We are particularly concerned, given
changes in the weightings given to Psychology in particular in
the teaching funding formula, that university income "generated"
by the large numbers of Psychology undergraduates is no longer
sufficient to support the teaching of science subjects to the
levels needed to support a proper education based on quantitative
experimental approaches. Without adequate science-based funding,
we are in danger of no longer being able to provide the intensity
of practical scientific teaching, and the associated transferable
skills, that this country's economy has enjoyed to-date.
Psychology is the fastest growing subject in
science, however, many departments are now stretched to intolerable
5. A balance must be struck in research-active
departments between support for nationally and internationally
recognized research, and support for teaching.
6. Maintaining regional capacity in science
teaching and research is essential.
7. Whilst it is appropriate that HEFCE continue
to manage funding provision of different subjects, we would urge
HEFCE to encourage the collection of data which do more adequately
reflect the true teaching cost. This disparity, between actual
cost and the costs on which formula funding are based, is particularly
noticeable in the case of the teaching of science subjects, and
is certainly the case with our own subject, Psychology.