Research managers across the country are by now bent over the mass of data that has been produced by the RAE 2008, seeking to spin the best story possible out of it for their institution. And as everyone has by now realised, the 2008 RAE system offers much scope for precisely that–making the most of it. Universities will be able to take advantage of the more detailed rating system on offer to play to their individual strengths.
The exercise has cost HEFCE £12 million to run and many sleepless nights. It must be a frightful relief to David Eastwood, the council’s departing chief executive (to run Birmingham university), that the main thing we can all take away from the 2008 RAE is that UK research is really great, and it’s great everywhere! Phew.
The results have shown that 17 per cent of our research was rated as internationally excellent, with a 4* rating, and a further 37 per cent landed in the 3* category.
However, HEFCE assures us that this excellence has not come at the expense of research volume. The council rejects the suggestion that universities have been leaving out staff to boost their average quality rating, and it notes that the number of academics reviewed under the RAE has increased by 12 per cent.
Someone has been playing the system though, because actual submissions dropped by 9 per cent.
While today’s outcomes will provide ample food for thought, universities will have to wait until 5 January to get fuller feedback on their performance, and until 4 March to find how much cash they have secured for their efforts.