Research councils in the UK have shifted toward funding doctoral training programs at a handful of top institutions, Anna Fazackerley writes at The Guardian, leaving some smaller schools to wonder about their role. "What they are doing is creating a catch-22. If they limit research council studentships to the big players, that limits the scoring in the [Research Excellence Framework], and if you don't score highly in that you don't get studentships in the future," says Paul O'Prey, the vice-chancellor of Roehampton University in London. Some worry, Fazackerley adds, that other research grants would also be affected.
Others, though, say students benefit from an environment of scholarship. "Research students need more than a good supervisor; they need deep engagement in the full breadth of their discipline. That can only happen in an environment where there is a critical mass of teachers and like-qualified students," adds Sarah Worthington, a Cambridge University law professor.