The Government’s proposals for a metrics-based research assessment and funding system to be introduced after the 2008 research assessment exercise were published on 13 June. Consultation will close on 13 October and final decisions will be announced before the end of the year.
I congratulate the Minister, both on his answer and on his sprint to the Dispatch Box. I shall allow him to get his breath back, and ask whether he agrees that any changes must be accepted by the university community as a whole. While a metrics-based system may well benefit science-based universities such as Loughborough, Sussex university, my alma mater where I did my masters degree, may be at a disadvantage because it is humanities-based. Will he bear that in mind to ensure that no single university will be disadvantaged by that approach?
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his interest. He will know that the research assessment exercise has been successful in driving up quality, but we must ensure that the new metrics-based approach continues that trend. The approach has some advantages, as it reduces costs and administration, but we must get it right. That is what the consultation is designed to achieve, and we will work with universities in the coming period.
Order. The hon. Member for Lichfield (Michael Fabricant) complained that I called three Members from one side of the House, so may I point out that he should put in his book the fact that I called him after the allotted time? It is important to be even-handed, so he should hold back his complaints until he sees what the Speaker does.