The Higher Education Funding Council for England is to cut funds to lower-performing departments. The move has been criticised by the British Educational Research Association which has said restricting funds to the elite will jeopardise moves to turn education into a research-informed profession.
The quality of university research is rated from 1 to 5*. The council has said funding will be maintained for all 5* departments while funding for 5-rated departments will be restored to 20012 levels after a drop this year. But funds for 4-rated departments will fall. Funding for 19 3a-rated departments, employing 337 researchers, will be cut to nothing.
Those rated lower than 3a were not funded last year.
Professor Michael Bassey, BERA's academic secretary, said: "The departments with 5 and 5* ratings tend to do research that is highly theoretical.
Research that is 3b or 3a tends to be practitioner-orientated and located in the classroom. There is a real need for both kinds of research in education."
HEFCE has agreed to fund departments rated 3a or 3b in seven "emerging disciplines" which include nursing.
Dr Mary Stiasny, head of the 3a-rated school of education and training at the University of Greenwich, said: "We are deeply concerned that educational research is not recognised as an emerging discipline. Across the country there are many developing research teams which should be supported as they grow and achieve high levels of excellence."