Meet the Panel …

Just a quick post to pass on the news that the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has announced the list of panel members for the forthcoming Research Excellence Framework (REF), a massive exercise in bean counting which will drag on until 2014.

Much as I enjoy ploughing through HEFCE’s fascinating documents, in this case I went straight to the Physics (& Astronomy) sub-panel, which is:

All estimable folk and a good selection of different expertise. There’s also a good geographical spread with members from the English regions, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and of course Wales. Oh, wait a minute. Not Wales. Apparently Wales doesn’t merit any representation on the Physics REF panel. Nor did it last time. Why am I thinking to myself “here we go again”?

To be perfectly honest, I don’t really understand why Welsh universities are being forced to take part in the REF anyway. Or those from Scotland and Northern Ireland for that matter. The REF is driven by an English agenda which is certainly at variance with Welsh priorities. Whereas in England, HEFCE is allocating funding using a formula involving an exceedingly steep weighting towards “internationally leading” research, here in Wales the equivalent body HEFCW is resisting the urge to concentrate research cash so heavily according to such a doubtful measure of research quality.

And don’t get me started on the so-called “impact” measures. All I can say about them is that Kafka would have been proud.

The Welsh Assembly Government has recently taken steps to protect Welsh students against the effects of Higher Education cuts imposed by Westminster. However, there will be substantial cuts in resource to Welsh universities in order to pay for this. At the same time as making “efficiency savings”, as is appropriate for the age of austerity, we’re also being forced to participate in a monstrously wasteful bureaucratic exercise of little relevance to the needs or aspirations of Welsh universities.

I think there’s a strong case for HEFCW to show a bit of real independence and withdraw from the REF altogether.


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9 Responses to “Meet the Panel …”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Haley Gomez, Peter Coles. Peter Coles said: Meet the Panel … http://wp.me/pko9D-2pn [...]

  2. I know that some of the members of the REF physics subpanel read this blog, so I’ll just say what a collection of intellectually brilliant, well-organised people they all are. They are sure to transform the character of British physics and astronomy with their wise assessments.

    By the way, I thought the chair had moved his research group to Germany.

  3. Rhodri Evans Says:

    What would be the consequences of Welsh universities not taking part in the REF?

  4. [...] week I posted a short item about the looming Kafka-esque nightmare that is the Research Excellence Framework. A few people [...]

  5. [...] but since it looks like we are stuck with it, I worry what the outcome will be, especially since Welsh physicists have been systematically excluded from the physics [...]

  6. [...] to the panel, and we are told that each of these will be read by at least two panel members. The panel comprises 20 [...]

  7. [...] to the panel, and we are told that each of these will be read by at least two panel members. The Physics panel comprises 20 [...]

  8. [...] to the panel, and we are told that each of these will be read by at least two panel members. The panel comprises 20 [...]

  9. […] to the panel, and we are told that each of these will be read by at least two panel members. The panel comprises 20 […]

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