Monday, January 12, 2009

RAE 2008 and the British job market

Several readers have asked me about the possible effects of the recently completed RAE 2008 on the job market in the UK. For those unfamiliar with the RAE system, essentially every department in every subject is reviewed by a panel of peers every seven years or so. The panel assesses the research quality of a department looking at factors such as (a) publications, (b) research environment, and (c) esteem amongst many others. The better a department scores, the more research cash its university will receive. Thus, departments care about performing well. The most recent assessment --- covering 1 January 2001 through 31 December 2007 --- has just taken place and the results published.

My best guess is that there will be very few job announcements --- particularly for permanent posts --- until at least late March/early April. This is because we will not know until March precisely what the recently released assessment scores for each department will mean in terms of funding. After universities can assess their performance in terms of expected cash flows, we might then begin seeing new posts advertised.

The one potential concern amongst all of this is that some departments may have done better than expected or at least have met expectations. However, some will have performed much worse. This may complicate the job market as universities determine the way forward, but (again) I doubt there will be much activity until the results are known in terms of how much cash will accompany the scores.

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