INNOVATION, UNIVERSITIES AND SKILLS News Release issued by The
Government News Network on 24 April 2008
The next steps in
developing the system for allocating more than £1.4 billion in
funding to universities for research are announced today by John
Denham, Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills.
The current system for assessing research, the Research
Assessment Exercise (RAE), depends on universities submitting
research outputs to subject panels for peer review. The Research
Excellence Framework (REF), which will come fully into effect in
2014, will make this exercise more statistically based and less
cumbersome for academics.
A new metrics based assessment framework will make greater use of
statistical indicators helping reduce the need for peer review.
Such indicators could include, for example, the number of times
research is cited by other researchers or the amount of external
research income a department earns.
Announced today are two modifications to the original plans for
implementing the REF which were announced in December 2006. The
modifications are in response to further consultation carried out
by Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).
Firstly within the single overarching framework, there will no
longer be such a clear distinction between the arrangements for
science-based subjects and those for all other subjects. So for
all subjects the assessment will include metrics-based indicators,
including bibliometric indicators of quality wherever appropriate,
as well as input from expert panels. The balance of metrics and
expert input will vary according to the subject group.
Secondly, in order to allow sufficient time for the development
of this more flexible approach, the timetable for designing the
new framework will be extended by 12 months.
John Denham said:
"I am very grateful to HEFCE for the work they have done so
far to develop the new arrangements as part of what is a
technically complex exercise. The response to HEFCE's recent
consultation indicated broad support for the proposals for
implementation of the new Research Excellence Framework (REF).
"We have listened carefully to feedback from the higher
education sector and others. The modifications I have announced
to-day address two key concerns which came over very clearly in
the consultation responses."
Professor David Eastwood, Chief Executive of HEFCE, said:
"I warmly welcome this announcement which builds on the
progress made over the past year and establishes a strong
framework which we can now take forward, working closely with the
higher education sector and other key bodies".
Notes to Editors
1. In 2008/09 DIUS will allocate £1.4 billion for quality-related
(QR) research that is distributed through the Higher Education
Funding Council for England. Parallel arrangements exist in other
parts of the UK. Funding is distributed for specific projects and
programmes on a UK-wide basis by the Research Councils. Since
1986, the distribution of QR funding has been informed by the
Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), which is based on academic
peer review of selected research outputs carried out by subject
specific assessment panels. The next RAE, which takes place in
2008, will involve 67 subject panels and 15 main panels.
2. In the Science and Innovation Investment Framework 2004-014
(published in 2004), the Government expressed an interest in using
metrics collected as part of the 2008 RAE to provide a benchmark
on the value of metrics as compared to peer review, with a view to
making more use of metrics in assessment and reducing the
administrative burden of peer review. The 10-Year Science and
Innovation Investment Framework: Next Steps published with the
2006 Budget (http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/media/1E1/5E/bud06_science_332.pdf)
moved these plans forward by proposing a consultation on a moving
to a metrics-based research assessment system after the 2008 RAE.
A working Group chaired by Sir Alan Wilson (then DfES Director
General of Higher Education) and Professor David Eastwood (then
Chief Executive Designate of HEFCE) produced proposals which were
issued for consultation on 13 June 2006. The outcome of that
consultation was announced in December 2006 as part of the