I’VE had a bit of an axe to grind recently about the government’s proposed policy on requiring such a large proportion of research funding to be allocated on the basis of economic and social impact. The University & College Union (UCU) is curently hosting a petition, signed against the statement that I’ve copied from their site below.
Sign it if you care to.
From the UCU’s website:
The latest proposal by the higher education funding councils is for 25% of the new Research Excellence Framework (REF) to be assessed according to ‘economic and social impact’. As academics, researchers and higher education professionals we believe that it is counter-productive to make funding for the best research conditional on its perceived economic and social benefits.
The REF proposals are founded on a lack of understanding of how knowledge advances. It is often difficult to predict which research will create the greatest practical impact. History shows us that in many instances it is curiosity-driven research that has led to major scientific and cultural advances. If implemented, these proposals risk undermining support for basic research across all disciplines and may well lead to an academic brain drain to countries such as the United States that continue to value fundamental research.
Universities must continue to be spaces in which the spirit of adventure thrives and where researchers enjoy academic freedom to push back the boundaries of knowledge in their disciplines.
We, therefore, call on the UK funding councils to withdraw the current REF proposals and to work with academics and researchers on creating a funding regime which supports and fosters basic research in our universities and colleges rather than discourages it.
[12,007 signatures at 11:43, 16 Nov 2009]
Sign the petition here.