Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

'We're Only Here for the REF': ThePoppletonian-Yourofficialnewsletter

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

'We're Only Here for the REF': ThePoppletonian-Yourofficialnewsletter

Article excerpt

"I find your imputation extremely offensive." That was how Brian Bryan, our Deputy Head of REF Strategy, responded to the suggestion from Poppletonian reporter Keith Ponting (30) that our university's recent recruitment of 154 research academics on very short-term here-today-gone- tomorrow contracts was nothing but a cynical device for inflating our REF score.

In fact, said Mr Bryan, this increase in 0.2 staff was no more than a "statistical blip", much like the "statistical blips" that had occurred at the University of Manchester (47 new 0.2 appointments), King's College London (66 new 0.2 appointments) and the University of Hertfordshire (75 new 0.2 posts). And it was also very much like the "statistical blip" in the whole university sector, which had recorded a 63 per cent increase in very short-term 0.2 contracts since October 2011.

Mr Bryan suggested that anyone who was cynical enough to detect a pattern in this rush of 0.2 appointments should listen to Graeme Rosenberg, REF manager of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, who recently declared his lack of concern about such figures. These appointments, Mr Rosenberg insisted, constituted only "a small fraction" of the overall academic body and had been made "for a variety of reasons".

"There you are," Mr Bryan said. "Straight from the horse's mouth. Only 'a small fraction' and 'for a variety of reasons'."

But, persisted Ponting, hadn't Imperial College London rather let the cat out of the bag by refusing to respond to the FoI request for its own 0. …

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