Changes to the research impact and environment sections of REF2021 highlight the way the wider policy landscape is changing. James Wilsdon makes sense of the latest decisions.
As the 2014 REF is published, widespread concerns are expressed in the sector that a level of grade inflation has artificially skewed the overall results. This has led to fears, from lots of different corners of the sector, over the for the future of the exercise itself and the funding that underpins it. John O’Leary brings together the sector and funder reactions to the 2014 REF results.
This week the results of the latest cycle of research audit in UK universities will be published. This will trigger a frenzy of analysis as the bones of REF 2014 are picked over with a view to identifying winners and losers, risers and fallers, and what if anything it might mean for the future. Martin McQuillan looks at how research funding has been treated by this Government and what future for the process is there in a time of increasing austerity.
Last week I predicted that today’s Innovation & Research Strategy would in no way be a radical document that questioned the underlying principles of research or research funding. Despite some optimistic thinking in some quarters of the sector, today we can see that the Government’s appetite for constant revolution is starting to wane. This strategy has instead provided them with an opportunity to reinforce what’s already working and look ahead – albeit only to the short or medium term.
Next week, we are expecting the government to launch their long-awaited Innovation & Research strategy. Still suffering whiplash from the HE White Paper, there are those in the sector feeling nervous about what might be coming. But do they need to be?
Research was notable by its absence in the HE white paper, leaving a large hole in the government’s plans for the sector. Recognition of its importance to higher education and its inter-relationship with issues related to the teaching of undergraduates, which features so prominently in the document, should have been included. Research has no need of revolution but as a central tenet of UK higher education, it seems incongruous not to build other policies on the foundation that it provides.