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The UK's only independent think tank devoted to higher education.

Research Funding and Assessment: The Future

  • 14 October 2009
  • 09:00 - 18:00
  • The Royal Society, London

For the past 3 years HEFCE has been considering replacement of the RAE with a new assessment process – the Research Excellence Framework (REF). This consideration is now coming to a conclusion with HEFCE’s publication in September of its definitive proposals.

However, the assessment process does not stand in isolation of the policies it is intended to deliver. What should these be? What are the purposes of the government’s funding of research, and what allocation processes would best deliver these? Is the dual support system bound to continue? Is the country best served by the present highly selective funding? And what should be the balance between considerations of quality, fairness and value for money?

These are important questions – more important than the assessment mechanism. But the assessment and distribution mechanisms themselves can influence – for better or worse – the extent and nature of the research produced.

This conference, organised by the Higher Education Policy Institute and supported by Elsevier, brings together some of those who will play a key role in taking decisions on these and related questions, and is timed to be able to take account of HEFCE’s proposals. Chaired by Phil Willis, chairman of the House of Commons IUSS Select Committee, speakers include: Adrian Smith, Director-General for Science and Research at DBIS, Professor David Eastwood, VC of Birmingham and former Chief Executive of HEFCE; Professor Michael Driscoll, VC of Middlesex and former Chair of the Million+ Group, Professor Edward Acton, VC of UEA, Professor Nigel Thrift, VC of Warwick, Sir Mark Walport, Chief Executive of The Wellcome Trust; Professor Ian Diamond, Chief Executive of ESRC and Head of RCUK; Professor Michael Arthur, VC, University of Leeds; Sir Alan Langlands, HEFCE’s new chief executive; Jay Katzen, Managing Director, Academic and Government Products, Elsevier;Professor Dame Julia Higgins, Imperial College, Vice-President of the Royal Society and chair of an RAE Main Panel; Dr Jonathan Adams, Director of Evidence Ltd.

As one of the first opportunities to address HEFCE’s proposals, this authoritative conference will provide an opportunity for participants to hear from the key players how they see the future, and to make an input into discussions that will contribute to decisions by HEFCE and the Government that will shape the future of research policy, assessment and funding.

This conference will:

  • Provide an opportunity to examine and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the current processes and policies for funding academic research
  • Hear from the Government and the Funding Council about their views and proposals for the future
  • Enable participants to question senior representatives of the Government and HEFCE, and to make an input into future Government and HEFCE thinking on research funding and assessment before decisions are taken
  • Provide an opportunity to consider and discuss HEFCE’s proposals for the new Research Excellence Framework
  • Hear from those who have shaped the present system and who will lead the implementation of any changes in the future
  • Hear from university leaders what they see as the problems with the present system, and the implications they see arising from any likely changes
  • Provide a networking opportunity for all those with an interest in research policy and funding

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