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Issue 475, 21 January 2002

RAE 2001 success should 'stand us in good stead'

Seventy percent of University of Leeds researchers are now working in 5 or 5* departments, according to the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise – a 75% increase on the 1996 RAE.

Pro-Vice-Chancellor for research, Professor John Fisher, said: "We have done well right across the board. We set ourselves challenging targets to improve our ratings and schools and departments have worked very hard to achieve them."

The HEFCE has said it will use the RAE 2001 results as the basis for funding research in 2002-3, with 910m available for distribution, but, as has been widely reported, it is not able to fully fund improvements in research achieved throughout the sector.

The funding council has not yet made public the basis for allocation – and is unlikely to do so before March. It has said, however, that the unit of resource for 5* departments will be maintained and there will be some funding for other departments.

Professor Fisher said: "We can't fix our own internal resource allocation until we've received full details from the funding council. As we've submitted a large number of staff, we expect our relative position to be safeguarded. It's quite clear, however, that the funding this year will not fully reflect the substantial improvements made in research quality here and elsewhere. However, our performance should stand us in good stead for the future, if, as we hope, the comprehensive spending review in 2003 bases future research funding on these results."

The University submitted the highest number of staff to the exercise in its peer group – 1,117 – and was second only to Edinburgh overall for the number of subjects – 47 – submitted for assessment.

Four faculties – biological sciences, earth and environment, engineering and maths and physical sciences – now have 90% of their units of assessment rated 5 or 5*. Twenty-eight units of assessment overall received 5 or 5* ratings, including virtually all the science and engineering departments.

The RAE 2001 results confirm Leeds' position as a top-ten research university, now placed 7th nationally for its number of highly-rated researchers. And a calculation of 'research power' – taking into account the number of researchers in each subject area and their scores – puts Leeds 8th out of 173 institutions taking part in the RAE.

See the press release on Leeds' RAE success

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