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Academic to privatise his team

One of Britain's leading education academics is to move his research department to the country's only private university.

Professor Alan Smithers, who heads Liverpool university's centre for education and employment research, will join the University of Buckingham in August.

His department has conducted research for the Government and teacher unions on issues including recruitment and retention, access to higher education, vocational education and qualifications and assessment.

He said he had become increasingly frustrated by the Government's research assessment exercise, which determines funding formulae in higher education.

It means that researchers have to wait up to 18 months to have their work published in academic journals. Professor Smithers said: "I need more freedom and flexibility, so that any findings can be made known to the people who make education work, the teaching profession and the policy-makers."

Professor Smithers, who is also an adviser to MPs on the education select committee, will move to his new post with his colleague Dr Pamela Robinson, and IT specialist Mandy-Diana Coughlan.

Professor Smithers, who is in his 60s, said: "Buckingham took the view that Winston Churchill wasn't yet Prime Minister when he was my age."

His centre will form part of Buckingham's new department of education. He will join professors Anthony O'Hear, the head of department, and Chris Woodhead, the controversial former chief inspector of schools.

Professor Woodhead said: "The SmithersRobinson team has been responsible for the most interesting and useful educational research in recent years.

They will make a tremendous contribution to our work in Buckingham. I look forward to some exciting initiatives."

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