Leading Article: Mixed fortunes

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The Independent Online

The announcement by the Higher Education Funding Council that it will provide an extra £8m of funding for science, technology, engineering and maths departments (the Stem subjects) in universities has led to sighs of relief at almost all Russell Group institutions. Hefce's statement followed widespread anxiety that otherwise the top universities could lose research money as a result of the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) – and that would affect Britain's standing in the world.

This protection of Stem will be a worry to universities that don't offer Stem subjects, such as the London School of Economics and the School of Oriental and African Studies. Universities specialising in arts and humanities subjects stand to lose out because the RAE found research to be excellent in these subjects in most universities. The new universities will suffer too because they managed to get a relatively high percentage of their staff into 4* and 3*, the top two categories, particularly in the arts, humanities and social sciences.

So, the allocations will lead to changes in the fortunes of institutions when they are published on 5 March. A number of universities may find themselves having to look for new sources of funding.