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Good news for universities using ESA ( European Space Agency) facilities. Last December, the Presidents of the RAS and the IoP jointly wrote to the Chief Executive of PPARC (now STFC), drawing attention to an anomaly in the way in which it was proposed to attribute the use of ESA facilities in the 2008 RAE (Research Assessment Exercise). The President of the RAS, Professor Michael Rowan-Robinson, followed this up with a letter to Sir John Pendry, chair of the RAE physics panel.

The CEO of the STFC, Professor Keith Mason, has now replied as follows:

Dear Michael
Thank you for the copy of your letter of 8 June 2007 to Professor Sir John Pendry FRS.
Our enquiries have now been completed and a method has been decided upon to split the ESA subscription between the observational use of the ESA facilities and instrument development in order to provide a notional cost for the RAE 2008. Using the costs of the ESA Missions in Operation and Implementation, it was calculated that 21% of the ESA subscription should be used for the notional cost of the observational use of the ESA facilities and 79% for the non-observatory missions.
The observational portion has been attributed to the PIs on the basis of the time awarded to them, which was supplied by ESA. For each period reported in the RAE, the percentage of the time awarded has been calculated for the PI and that percentage has then been applied to the observational portion of the ESA subscription to provide the notional cost of the usage of the facility.
The portion of the subscription for the non-observatory missions will be apportioned on the basis of instrument development, to provide a notional cost. This, of course, has led to adjustments in the figures previously reported.
The new and amended data will be provided in the second tranche of the RAE data.
Yours sincerely,