British government proposals to overhaul the way academic research is funded could result in a redistribution of money among universities, with top centers such as Cambridge and Durham losing funds, while some newer institutions gain funds, it emerged last week.Last Tuesday (June 13), Higher Education Minister Bill Rammell said the existing Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), which uses peer review to determine how more than £1bn in funding is divided among universities each year, would be held for the last time in 2008. In its place, the government wants a more straightforward system that focuses on "metrics," or statistical analyses of outcomes. For subjects like science, engineering, and medicine, funders would use levels of external research income to calculate government funding, Rammell said.A working group put together by the government developed five different proposals for how the new system might work. When the Higher Education Funding Council for England evaluated those...

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