Research Assessment Exercise

Arman Vénus aux Pinceaux, 1998
Arman Vénus aux Pinceaux, 1998
Detail of cover illustration, Manifestations of Venus.
This is a collabortive work with essays by several members of the academic staff

"Courtauld gains top grade for the third time running."

These headlines refer to the result of the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise, in which the Courtauld Institute was the only submission in the History of Art, Architecture and Design unit to be awarded a 5*.

But what is the RAE? Is it as dull as it sounds? No, this is not another one of those tedious league tables based on numbers and creative accounting. Instead it is an exercise which involves a panel of distinguished academics in the field, who spend several months reading the research produced by their colleagues over the previous six years. On the basis of this demanding task they decide what proportion of the staff at each institution has published work of international or national importance. To gain a 5* the majority of staff must be international and the rest at least national. Attention is paid to numbers of research students (there were 116 successful PhD students at the Courtauld between 1994 and 2000), associated researchers, research grants, and lectures and symposia organised. But the size of the institution is explicitly not a criterion.

Included in the assessment were keynote lectures, conference papers, editorships, and exhibitions given and organised by academic staff, as well as collaborative projects within and outside the Institute. Six members of staff contributed to a volume entitled Manifestations of Venus, and staff and ex-students collaborated to produce the first Courtauld Research Papers series with Ashgate Press and several volumes in the Revisions contemporary art series with Black Dog Publishing. A Research Centre for Illuminated Manuscripts was set up with the universities of Lille and Leuven, and the Library led a consortium, HOGARTH (see Courtauld Institute of Art News issue no.12, Autumn 2001), to develop an online gateway to bibliographic resources for art history across UK universities, museums and galleries. Both Conservation departments also led major national and international projects, collaborating with Tate, Imperial College, English Heritage and the British Council.

Within the Institute, the Gallery and academic staff worked together to put on some important exhibitions including Great Impressionists; Portrait of Sir John Luttrell by Hans Eworth; Art Made Modern: Roger Fry’s Vision of Art, and Sinai, Byzantium, Russia.

Our funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England will, as a result of the RAE, increase by over £200,000. We are aware of the responsibility this rating has placed on us. We have to use these funds wisely and strategically to support staff in their groundbreaking research and to make our exceptional resources available to all researchers.

DR ROSE WALKER Academic Registrar