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20 June 2006

HEFCE statement on the reform of research assessment and funding

The HEFCE Board met on 15 June and considered the immediate implications of the Government's consultation 'Reform of Higher Education Research Assessment and Funding'.

The Board:

  • Welcomed the Government's confirmation that the RAE 2008 should go ahead largely as planned.
  • Reaffirmed the importance of a robust and rigorous exercise both in benchmarking the quality of UK research nationally and internationally and as a basis for allocating grant. The Board recognised that the 2008 RAE will provide a sound basis for both comparing the outcomes of the shadow metrics exercise and the implementation of any future metrics-based model.
  • Invited the chairs of all 15 Main Panels for RAE 2008 to consider the consultation question relating to the greater use of metrics in the 2008 RAE and report back to the funding bodies by mid-July.
  • Reaffirmed its intention that the results of RAE 2008 would substantially inform funding in England for a significant period from 2009-10 while any new model is being phased in.
  • Welcomed the establishment of the HEFCE/AHRC working group to consider issues specific to arts and humanities disciplines on both sides of the dual-support system.
  • Thanked Professor David Eastwood, HEFCE's Chief Executive Designate, and HEFCE officers for their contribution to the working group which produced the Government's consultation report.

Commenting after the Board meeting the HEFCE chairman, David Young, said that the Board was concerned by the misleading reports in the press about the status of RAE 2008 and the funding which will follow from it. He emphasised the need for stability (particularly with the imminent introduction of variable fees) and an orderly transition to any new assessment and funding model. He added that the Government had invested significantly in higher education and research over the past 10 years, and welcomed the continued commitment of Government to maintaining and enhancing the UK's excellent research base and to the dual-support arrangements for funding research.

'Reform of Higher Education Research Assessment and Funding' consultation