Cuts to Academic Press Spark Fear for Welsh Culture; WARNING RESEARCH WILL DIE IF FINDINGS CAN'T BE PUBLISHED

Article excerpt

Byline: MARTIN SHIPTON

FUNDING cuts could put research into the culture, history and literature of Wales at risk, academics have claimed.

Swansea University lecturer Alyce von Rothkirch said there is a real threat that the withdrawal of funding from the University of Wales Press by Hefcw - the Welsh Government's Higher Education Funding Council for Wales - will result in an end to research on Welsh culture.

In an article for the cultural journal Planet, she argues there is little appetite left for funding the humanities. She said she fears that at the end of a three-year period when Hefcw has agreed to keep funding scholarly publications, the money will dry up. A new campaign is being proposed aimed at ensuring that does not happen.

Ms von Rothkirch writes: "Scholarly research on Wales may atrophy as no academic is likely to invite young scholars to commit several years of their life to research that they can't publish.

"The remaining academic researchers will struggle to package their proposals to make them interesting to non-Welsh publishers."

She said the one hope is that at the end of the three years, Hefcw can be persuaded to carry on funding publishing rather than distributing money to universities as they see fit.

Ms von Rothkirch said: "This opportunity must not be missed. We have to make a strong argument for the continued need for financial support of scholarly publications on Wales in Welsh and in English.

"As it seems no longer self-evident that research on culture is of central importance to the nation, we have to make the case.

"What we need is a publications fund that supports scholarly work on Wales by and for the community at large which genuinely has impact.

"This fund does not necessarily have to be administered by Hefcw.

"In some ways an institution that is clearly independent of the interests of universities, such as the Welsh Books Council or the Learned Society, might be better options, as long as the University of Wales Press' stringent measures of peer review are retained. …