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UCU says fundamental review on research needed

7 December 2006 | last updated: 14 December 2015

UCU today welcomed the news that the government has abandoned its crude mono-metrics approach to the replacement for the Research and Assessment Exercise (RAE).

However, the union remains concerned about the continuing narrowness of the current review by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), and says that the government is contradicting itself over the timetable for the assessment of science, engineering and technology (SET subjects). UCU also reiterated its call for proper consultation with staff about what will eventually replace the RAE.

UCU joint general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'UCU welcomes the government's decision to abandon their crude mono-metrics approach and to envisage a greater role for academic peer review in assessing the quality of research. However, we remain concerned about the continuing narrowness of the current DfES review and the government's preference for metrics.

'The government's proposals say that a new metrics assessment for SET subjects will take place in 2009 - only a year after a full-blooded RAE in 2008. Therefore the RAE will only fully fund SET subjects for a maximum of two years. Why bother with all the rigmarole of the RAE if it's not going to affect the funding? This clearly contradicts the government's own "reduced burden" argument. Furthermore we believe there needs to be consistency across the board. We agree with the Institute of Physics that SET research should continue to be peer reviewed.

'The government has also come out unambiguously in favour of bibliometrics (or citations) as the quality indicator. However, there was very little on this issue in the recent DfES paper, and there was certainly no positive recommendations for bibliometrics. UCU is sceptical about bibliometrics and also about the levels on consultation that have taken place.

'We urgently need to have a more fundamental review of research funding in higher education.'