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Discounting the Future - the Research Assessment Exercise and its consequences

25 February 2009

A one-day symposium organised by the University and College Union

The results of the latest RAE round and the associated funding decisions of the funding council (HEFCE) have produced uncertainty and anxiety for institutions and for individual researchers alike.  While the results demonstrated a wider spread of research excellence than previous allocations of funding had suggested possible, the decision to ring-fence current funding for science, technology, engineering and mathematics in the latest allocation will cut against a more dispersed, results-related distribution. Anxieties and resentments generalized!

The HEFCE is now engaged in the detailed allocation of its QR budget for 2009-10.  These decisions will have a profound impact on individual academic staff, on research teams and centres, and on the professional staff who support the academic process.  Yet they and the RAE process itself are the objects of profound skepticism amongst academic staff.  The metrics-based proposed successor to the current RAE mechanism is itself respected by few researchers.  Not the least cause for concern is the impact of these processes on academic freedom.  They raise the important question of what research is for, and who or what it is that should determine its direction.

This one-day event is designed as an opportunity for staff to discuss the ramifications of this last RAE, the implications of its successor, and, perhaps most importantly, what an effective and fair system of accountability for public funding of research should look like.  It will also be an opportunity to debate how best any destructive effect of the current mechanism, on careers and on the survival of departments and research projects, can be resisted.  The discussions will feed into the UCU's submissions to government and to the HEFCE.

Keynote addresses:
Professor Mary Evans, University of Kent

Working groups will explore: securing research projects post-RAE; individual career protection for research staff; the metrics system; female participation in research and development; academic freedom and publicly accountable research funding; science research, economic determinism and the 'Drayson' strategy; the new AHRC fellowship scheme; the ESRC concentration of doctoral training and research futures; research and teaching

The seminar is hosted by the UCU at the universities of Sussex and Brighton, in conjunction with the School of Historical and Critical Studies, Faculty of Arts and Architecture, University of Brighton.

For more information, contact Matt Waddup 

Last updated: 29 January 2020