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Issue 471, 22 October 2001

Don't eat the horses

The message that universities are severely underfunded is getting through to the government, Jim Port and Professor David Westbury of the transparency review told a packed seminar in the Great Woodhouse Room.

"The underinvestment in infrastructure means that universities are practising the Apache style of management: ride your horses until they drop and then eat them," Professor Westbury told participants.

The review showed that universities weren't getting enough in research overheads: HEFCE research money wasn't keeping pace with the growth in research grants and contracts.

Jim Port's team is currently investigating the backlog in science research investment and conducting a study of the cost of teaching in the arts and humanities.

Leeds results broadly fit in with the overall picture, said project manager Fiona Dale. Both teaching of UK students and publicly-funded research were in deficit, research by a massive 34% of reported cost.

Professor Westbury acknowledged that the review did not deal with 'staff overstretch and underpay'. He was hopeful that a methodology could be developed to quantify and correct this too, as without this teaching would continue to suffer.

The full progress report on costing and pricing and the transparency review is now available.

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