Government has broken promise to academics on research funding

1 March 2011 | last updated: 11 December 2015

UCU said today that the government was showing 'disgraceful neglect' towards universities and the academic community as it announced plans for the future of university research funding.

Universities minister, David Willetts, delayed the announcement after a campaign led by UCU to scrap a proposal that would see 25% of future research to be assessed on 'economic impacts'.
 
The union said that the minister had broken his promise to listen to academics as the government announced that the impact element will still be a key part of how research quality is assessed. Under the new framework the three elements being assessed will be weighted as such - output 65%, impact 20% and environment 15%.
 
UCU argues that if researchers had been operating under guidelines with an emphasis on impact then many crucial discoveries would have been missed. Over 18,000 academics, including six Nobel Prize winners and more than 3,000 professors, signed a petition in December 2009 that formed part of UCU's evidence to the government opposing the impact proposals.
 
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'Once again, this government is showing a disgraceful neglect of our universities. The academic community sent the government a clear message that measuring research impact was unworkable and David Willetts said he would listen. Yet he has broken that promise and all that's happened is that the funding councils will now roll out essentially the same untested proposals that were decisively rejected last year.
 
'The government should stop attacking universities and look at what other countries are doing: investing in higher education in the long-term interests of society and economic growth, not slashing funding on capital expenditure and dreaming up impractical projects for micro-managing research.'

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