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Don't tar all architecture schools with same brush

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Zoë Blackler is quite right to complain about the reduced funding coming from the Research Assessment Exercise (AJ 25.4.02).

However, her article gives the wrong impression about this.

The main reason for reduced funding is that the Higher Education Funding Council failed to set enough money aside to fund what was widely expected to be a substantial increase in research performance.

In the built environment section, which includes most of the schools of architecture, this improvement was very substantial indeed. Although, sadly, the two schools to which you refer each dropped by a grade, some 12 schools raised their grades with all the others holding steady.

In fact, two schools managed to go up two whole grades with Bath doing exceptionally well to get from 3a to 5.

It is also noticeable that the improvement in the architecture schools was greater than the average for the built environment as a whole. It is also the case that schools of architecture that submitted to other assessment panels on average improved their performance.

Perhaps, then, the AJ might like to congratulate the schools of architecture on this excellent achievement, instead of erroneously giving the impression that architecture is underperforming?

However, the reduction in funding is disgraceful. In particular, it hits those schools that had raised their grades at the bottom end of the scale, only to find that the threshold for funding had also been raised so they still missed out.

Such a process has been likened to playing a game, at the end of which the referee blows the whistle and then explains the rules. It is quite unacceptable.

Professor Bryan Lawson Dean, Faculty of Architectural Studies, University of Sheffield

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