Fighting together for USS

Performance Management, Workforce Control and the Academic Productivity agenda: developing an alternative model for HE staff

This seminar provides an early opportunity to discuss recent academic research on workforce and performance management models in the HE sector, and explore implications for the union's industrial agenda.

6 November 2012, 10.45am - 4:30pm
UCU Head Office, Carlow Street, London NW1 7LH,


In recent years we have seen an increasing trend among HEIs to adopt new Performance Management policies, employing Human Resource Management techniques borrowed from the private sector. This is linked to an agenda that emphasises 'academic productivity' and the need to reconfigure the HE workforce to deliver this productivity, with performance indicators established in areas such as research, teaching, knowledge exchange and income generation.  Performance Management regimes are also shaped by sector wide performance frameworks, in particular the REF (and previously the RAE), and often involve the employment of questionable metrics and ranking criteria, whilst also increasingly making reference to student feedback mechanisms in evaluating teaching performance.
These techniques also impact on collective bargaining with employer attempts to individualise relationships with their employees and introduce pay and reward incentives which break from national agreements on pay and terms and conditions.
This seminar will be an opportunity to discuss these trends and, assess their impact on the sector. Dr Celia Whitchurch of the Institute of Education will presents findings from a project on 'Staffing Models and Institutional flexibility' in HE, and Dr Monica Franco-Santos of Cranfield University will present findings from a project analysing the effectiveness of  Performance Management models in HE.
The seminar will also be an opportunity to discuss whether acceptable mechanisms for assessing the academic contribution can be developed. Is there an acceptable institutional model for assessing research endeavour, and can acceptable methods for responding to student feedback be developed? A speaker from the NUS has been invited to contribute to our discussion on student feedback mechanisms and implications for staff. 


UCU Seminar:

Performance Management, Workforce Control and the Academic Productivity agenda: developing an alternative model for HE staff

UCU Head Office, Carlow Street, 6 November 2012, 11am - 4.30pm

10.45-11.05: Welcome and Introduction

11.05-11.50: Staffing models and the quest for institutional flexibility in HE institutions: a work in progress - Dr Celia Whitchurch, Institute of Education, University of London

11.50-12.50: The effectiveness and impact of performance management systems in HE - Dr Monica Franco-Santos, Cranfield University

12.50-13.15: Discussion: impact of management trends in the HE sector

13.15-14.00: lunch

14.00-14.50: Developing appropriate student feedback mechanisms - Alan Roberts, NUS Policy Officer

14.50-15.35: Performance Managing Research; the good, the bad and the ugly - Professor Catherine Pope, University of Southampton

15.35-16.30: Discussion: Alternative and appropriate models

Last updated: 30 September 2013