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Research Funding and Assessment; The Future Assessment, selectivity and excellence: Getting the balance right Michael Arthur Vice-Chancellor, University.

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Presentation on theme: "Research Funding and Assessment; The Future Assessment, selectivity and excellence: Getting the balance right Michael Arthur Vice-Chancellor, University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Research Funding and Assessment; The Future Assessment, selectivity and excellence: Getting the balance right Michael Arthur Vice-Chancellor, University of Leeds Chair of the Russell Group

2 We are 2 nd in the world to the USA for Higher Education 1% of worlds population, but >5% of publications and 13% of citations Citation impact: UK is ahead of US in health, biology, environment and physical sciences Evidence for International Excellence

3 Publications per $ 1m invested in research We are effective and efficient UK16.6 US9.9 Japan3.6

4 Dual funding allows investment in new developments and to build on existing strengths This funding environment fosters research creativity Ability to foster interdisciplinary research initiatives of major societal importance Creating new knowledge of relevance to business and industry that fuels innovation The importance of dual funding

5 Successive RAEs have concentrated research funding over the last 20 years in the universities with the highest quality and concentration of research UK research performance has improved dramatically over this period China, S.Korea, Australia, Germany and France are investing heavily in their best research intensive universities, in part because of our achievements Importance of Research Selectivity

6 Research assessment exercise (RAE) 2008 reversed this trend, with no recognition of critical mass nor concentration of research excellence Research funding (QR) is now spread significantly more thinly Funding research excellence wherever it is found comes at a price This direction of travel is questionable, particularly in the current fiscal environment Outcome of RAE 2008

7 How many well funded research universities do we need, or can we afford to have, in the UK? Was the ramp of selectivity of RAE 2001 about right or should it be even greater? Should we grow research volume primarily or quality? Have we created an incentive to grow volume of a certain quality rather than quality per se? Some tough policy questions

8 Enough to maintain our international excellence Enough to support research training and career development and mobility of researchers and academic staff Enough to support regional economies as well as our national economy Enough volume of high quality research to generate breakthrough observations How many well funded research universities do we need?

9 It is not 169 It is not just 5, or even 10 It is somewhere between 25 and 30 – discuss! Within this latter group, research funding must remain differentially ramped How many well funded research universities do we need?

10 Research selectivity – some thought-provoking numbers Number of universities Actual % of total QR received post RAE 2008 Suggested total % of QR received post REF Top 532.5%35% Top %52.5% Top %75% Top %90%

11 Research training concentrated in the top group Position and funding determined by successive REFs at 7-10 year intervals Mobility in and out of top QR group essential over time Mobility within top group also essential Research selectivity – some controversial ideas

12 We must support the diversity of mission across our HE sector We should think seriously about creating a sustainable HE system We must find a long term solution for how best to fund all aspects of higher education What else needs to happen with such research selectivity?

13 Russell Group study of 123 cases of significant Innovation from 16 member universities. –53% resulted from basic research, 47% from applied. –We must protect science funding, basic and applied. The importance of basic or blue skies research

14 –Physics behind the electron microscope –Structure of DNA –Physics behind the MRI scanner –Genetic fingerprinting –Lasers and their applications –Monoclonal Antibodies All basic research first, many with impact years later The importance of basic or blue skies research

15 REF consultation suggests Impact is 25% of assessment (= £400M pa) Impact must relate to original primary research in the institution Time lag and discipline specific issues Reproducibility of impact assessments for each UoA? Potential for significant volatility in research funding post REF The REF and Impact

16 This will be best served by Concentrating research funds appropriately via an accurate and balanced REF that focuses primarily on research quality Supporting institutional creativity through continued dual funding of research The future of research excellence

17 Loss of international excellence Negative impact on the economy and slow recovery from recession May be very difficult to recover our international pre-eminence The consequences of getting it wrong


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