All out for USS

UCU calls for flexibility on deadlines to avoid UK research damage

12 March 2018 | last updated: 13 March 2018

UCU has written to UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) asking for a deadline extension for research funding.

Strikes at 65 UK institutions entered a fourth week this morning as UCU members took strike action for a tenth day. They will be on strike all this week with a further 14 days of action planned for the exam season if the dispute is not resolved.

In a letter to chief executive Sir Mark Walport, the union's general secretary Sally Hunt said UKRI risked causing significant damage to the UK research process if it did not adopt a more flexible approach.

When appointed to the role last year, Sir Mark said that UKRI would "provide a more strategic and agile approach to future challenges" and "work closely with all of the communities for whom it is vital that UK research and innovation continues to be an outstanding success". 

Over 3,600 university staff, including many senior academics, have put their name to an open letter calling on UKRI to rethink its refusal to extend deadlines for both existing reporting mechanisms, such as Researchfish, and new funding applications.

Last week UKRI said it had no intention of extending its deadline. UCU said UKRI should follow the lead of organisations such as the Alzheimer's Society which have extended their deadlines due to researchers taking industrial action. The union added that many staff will be under pressure from universities to prioritise teaching when they return to work.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: 'When appointed last year, Sir Mark spoke about the need to provide strategic and agile approaches to challenges. I hope he recognises that is exactly what is needed at this time and that he will follow the lead of the likes of the Alzheimer's Society and extend these deadlines.'