Thursday, January 07, 2010

UCU takes the gloves off?

This post follows on from two previous posts quoting email updates on the UCUs campaign against the proposed ways that UK academic research will be measured in the REF. Again I quote the entire thing below - it has some useful links and it is noteworthy in highlighting the risk of a renewed brain drain if the proposals go ahead.

One thing you learn from the study of bargaining and negotiation from a computational perspective, is that to make the case for a particular price, you need to appeal to the marketplace. In selling a house, it is no good to say to a buyer "you should pay me more because my house is worth more than your offer". You must say "you should pay me more because some other potential buyer would pay me more". Likewise, I believe that if a researcher is threatened with financial and reputational penalties if he refuses to bend to the Government's agenda, he is possibly mistaken to focus on explaining that pure research is valuable. Rather he should say "There are other buyers out there for the services I prefer to sell".

Dear colleagues,

UCU poll shows one third of professors considering leaving the country if impact pushed through:

I am just emailing to update you on recent progress in UCU’s campaign against HEFCE’s ‘impact’ proposals. The REF campaign hit the press in a big way today as three of the broadsheets feature a UCU poll showing that more than one third of professors would consider pursuing their academic careers abroad if HEFCE’s impact proposals are pushed through. One in five professors polled also said they knew someone already considering leaving. You can read more about the poll in a double page spread in the Independent:

You can also read it in the Times and the Telegraph:

The revelation that the impact agenda could trigger a brain drain in UK academia should give pause to the funding council and the government, providing yet more evidence of the danger posed by these proposals.

But are they listening? Peter Mandelson’s recent HEFCE grant letter, besides announcing swingeing cuts to the unit of resource, appeared to pre-empt the results of the REF consultation, committing the government firmly to the impact agenda. Lord Mandelson wrote to HEFCE: "On research, securing greater economic and social impact will be important over the next year. I want you to continue to develop proposals for the Research Excellence Framework, following the consultation that ended on 16 December. These should provide significant incentives to enhance the economic and social impact of research."

The press attention to our poll shows that the enormous opposition to the impact proposals is finding public expression. Our task now is to turn this into pressure at a political level.

The foundation of this campaign has been the support shown by you and your colleagues in signing the 18,000 strong petition. If we are to raise the pressure on the government we will need your support again and will shortly be writing to tell you how you can help us put pressure on your MP. Watch this space.

Thank you again for your support,

Best wishes

Jonathan White

Deputy Head of Campaigns, UCU

No comments: