UCU responds to Sir Paul Nurse's review of research councils

19 November 2015 | last updated: 10 December 2015

Commenting on the initial findings of the Nurse Review into research councils, published today, UCU has called on the government to ensure a more joined-up approach to future research funding which takes into account the views of staff.

The union said that while the review recognises the importance of research to society and the economy, the government must ensure it is funded properly given the key role of research councils in fostering a working environment that encourages new starters and supports more sustainable research careers.

It added that the current short-term, project based funding model has led to wasted time and effort associated with grant applications, and a continuous churn of talented researchers out of the sector.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'It is disappointing that the staffing dimension was absent from both the terms of reference of the Nurse Review and this report. Insecure employment is a problem at the heart of the current research model and the proposed new body, Research UK, must take urgent steps to address this.

'We would encourage research councils and any new body to examine how they can encourage the sustainable employment of research staff within universities. The current short-term funding model means too many talented researchers are wasting time chasing funding or leaving the sector.

'The lack of consideration given to the relationship between research funding and teaching in higher education is also disappointing; we would encourage research funding bodies to consider how teaching, scholarship and research can all be properly embedded within research assessment criteria.'

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