Communication from VC in December 2008 to all staff
Communications relating to the RAE results
As the date for the release of the RAE results approaches, many of you
have asked how you will find out the results for the University, and
what impact these will have. I am therefore writing to help clarify how
this important information will be disseminated.
When will the results be released to the University?
The RAE results will be released by HEFCE to the University on the
morning of 17 December 2008, under a strict embargo that will not be
lifted until 00.01 on 18 December. The University Executive Board has
agreed an analysis and communication strategy to ensure that all staff
are informed at the earliest opportunity permitted by the embargo, and
that this information is provided in ways that show our success relative
Our proposed strategy includes the following:
- The advance preparation of draft internal and external communications
based on a range of outcomes at the institutional, faculty and subject level
- The analysis of actual results (Sheffield and sector-wide)
- Preparation of information based on actual results for internal and
external communication (including to Faculties)
- Communication of these key messages
- Designated University spokespeople dealing with media enquiries.
What is the exact timetable for the receipt of results and communicating these to staff?
The Sheffield-only results will arrive in the University at 9.00 am on
17 December 2008 (under embargo).
At 10.30 am, the University will receive the sector-wide results (also
under embargo). Work will then begin on the analysis of each individual
Unit of Assessment to which Sheffield has made a return, ranking the
data against other institutions using a variety of criteria, in advance
of a special meeting of the University Executive Board at 5.00 pm that
To understand and communicate our achievements effectively, it is vital
we have been able to analyse the data, and our relative position within
the sector, including in those areas where we may not have done as well
as we had hoped. Data will be provided in the following formats:
- “Medal table” (ranked by percentages of 4* and 3*, then 3*, then 2*),
this being the most simple ranking methodology open to us;
- ranked by the sum of percentage scores at 4* and 3*;
- ranked by the sum of percentage scores at 4*, 3* and 2*;
- “grade point average” (or “score per staff”), which turns the profile
into an average mark for each full time equivalent (fte) submitted;
- FTE Weighted 4*: this multiplies the percentage score at 4* by the
number of ftes in a Unit of Assessment. This will advantage larger
submissions with good profiles over and above those extremely selective
submissions which have achieved outstanding profiles;
- FTE Weighted 4* extended to 3*.
Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellors will be officially informing their teams of
the results as soon as possible on 18 December 2008. I will then make a
full announcement to all staff that morning, so everyone is aware of our
achievements as soon as possible.
Information relating to the RAE results will appear in the media from
the 18 December. Please contact the press office (Lindsey Bird ext
25338) if you are approached for any comment by the press.
What happens next?
In my recent visits to departments I have been asked about what will
happen after the RAE results are out – what will be the impact in the
Most immediately, I fully expect that we will be celebrating the
excellence of our research and the hard work of our researchers. We hope
that the results will boost our reputation as a leading University,
although we understand that there is likely to be a range of results
across the institution as a whole.
But whatever the overall outcome, there will be no immediate impact on
staff. We must remember that the RAE is not the sole measure by which we
as a University evaluate our own performance, but rather a benchmark
against which decisions are made about the distribution of funding
nationally. So the RAE is just one measure, albeit it an important one,
that we will be considering alongside other indicators during our normal
planning processes. In financial terms, our forecasts assume no net
difference as a direct result of the RAE; though the actual financial
outcomes will not be known until spring 2009.
I hope that this answers your queries about the RAE results process. If
anyone requires further information, please contact
Sarah Fulton via S.Fulton@sheffield.ac.uk or ext 21446
or Deborah McClean via D.McClean@sheffield.ac.uk or ext 21449
in the first instance.
Professor Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor