HEFCE Announces RAE Funding Formula

After over a month of speculation in the HE sector, HEFCE have announced the formula they will use to determine how QR (Quality Related) research funding is distributed. QR is around £1.1bn per year and is allocated to universities on the basis of their results in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise.

The headline is that HEFCE will allocate QR money using a straightforward weighted formula as follows:

RAE 2008 Ranking

HEFCE QR Weighting











This means that 4* research will receive seven times the amount of funding that 2* research receives. 1* and unclassified will not attract QR funding under this formula.

However, it’s not quite that simple.

The controversy surrounding the RAE results has largely centred on the fact that so-called “pockets of excellence” – 4* world-leading research – have been found in most institutions, not only the major players like the Russell Group. Indeed, arguably the entire point of HEFCE introducing the quality profile in the 2008 RAE was to find (and fund) excellence “wherever it is found”. This has been worrying the big research-intensive universities, since, however you weight the RAE results, the post-92 sector stands to gain a significant amount of QR funding at the expense of the traditional red-bricks.

The Russell Group in particular stands to lose out considerably if the funding formula is a straight weighting of different ranks. They have argued that this would be a bad move for the UK on an international level as it would “dilute” research concentration and therefore global impact. The post-92s on the other hand make the case that HEFCE should stick to their word and fund research excellence “wherever it is found”.

HEFCE’s response to this dilemma is to ringfence part of the QR funding for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects, to maintain funding for those areas at previous levels. This approach tends to favour pre-92 institutions, since a higher proportion of those universities carry out STEM-based research.

The bottom line is that we still don’t know precisely how much funding universities are likely to receive. The funding formula is however great news for Lincoln, since many of our UoA’s were graded 2* or above in the recent exercise.