Reporter 418, 6 April 1998

News in brief

Blowing the whistle on RAE ‘games’

Research Assessment Exercises should take place every five years and action should be taken against ‘games-playing’, the University has told the Higher Education Funding Councils.

Concerned about the ‘short-termism’ associated with the RAE, the University called for a recognition of relevance as well as excellence in the exercise. In its submission to a review of the RAE, the University also proposed an improvement in feedback, better assessment of interdisciplinary research, and early announcement of the major features of the next exercise with as much consistency as possible.

The University believes that the current system is open to abuse by institutions which achieve high ratings by submitting only a small proportion of staff. One solution might be to require 100 per cent submission of all academic staff as a condition of entry into RAE.

Assessment should continue to be based mainly on peer review, although users should also be involved, according to the submission. The University also called on the Funding Councils to improve the treatment of interdisciplinary research.

The full submission is available on the Reporter Website.

Pay offer thrown out

All unions in the higher education sector have rejected a pay offer of 2 per cent from April 1 followed by 1.8 per cent from December 1.

Association of University Teachers General Secretary David Triesman said: “All our members seek is a just and fair settlement and the only long-term answer is an independent statutory pay review body which would give us that.”

Meanwhile, a meeting of the local AUT association has requested the union’s National Council to hold a strike ballot of its 1,200 members at the University of Leeds, in protest at a decision not to renew the fixed-term contracts of three philosophy lecturers.

Who talks wins

Department of East Asian Studies students practise their linguistic skills in a Chinese conversation competition. The winners shared an £80 voucher for a meal at Maxi Chinese restaurant in Leeds.

Fifty years a Fellow

The Royal Society is hosting a dinner later this month to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the election of Emeritus Professor Thomas E Allibone CBE FEng FRS (School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering) as a Fellow.

Professor Allibone is one of only four living Fellows to achieve this distinction and was the University’s first external Professor to be granted Emeritus status.

New food posts

The Procter Department of Food Science has secured industry support for three new posts to pursue fundamental research into the behaviour of food.

Research by the department, which won the highest 5* rating in the research assessment exercise, includes investigations into chilling and freezing processes, lengthening the shelf life of food and optimising the conditions in which it is kept.

The department’s close ties with industry are mirrored in the setting up of a national Food Modelling Club – a Leeds initiative to transfer technology. *

Dissertation prize

The School of History has received a £1,000 bequest by alumnus Marion Sharples, who died last year. It will provide an annual prize for the best dissertation submitted for the taught MA degree. Marion Sharples graduated from Bedford College, London, in the 1950s, and took an MA in British history in 1987, then her M.Phil with distinction in 1993 at Leeds.

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