Admin Team meeting yesterday afternoon - and a presentation on the Research Excellence Framework.
Every five years or so the Funding Councils assess the quality of research in British universities, and use this rating to determine how much funding each institution will get for research. This Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) was first carried out in 1986, and is being carried out now. Our return went off last October, and included 4 research outputs for each member of staff to be assessed (usually research papers in journals) as well as details of research income, and other indicators of quality. A tremendous amount of work goes into putting this together, and a series of panels then considers this mountain of data, and awards each department or discipline a rating.
However, this is the last time this will happen - the RAE is no more. It's being replaced by the Research Excellence Framework, which is currently out for consultation. It is being proposed that for STEM departments (Science, Engineering, Technology and Medicine) a series of metrics will be introduced. Some such as research income and number of postgrad research students will be obtained from our HESA returns. Others will rely on citations of research papers obtained from a citation index such as Web of Science.
For Arts, Humanities and Social Science subjects, which will interestingly include Maths and Stats, some sort of peer review process will remain.
This new system will be phased in gradually, but could have an impact on us fairly soon, both in terms of HESA data returns, and the development of systems to collect data and manage the process.