Kill the REF

I found an interesting critique of the Research Excellence Framework by Bill Cooke, which argues that the REF should be killed on the basis of the intrusive prying into personal circumstances that is apparently required to reduce REF outputs for ‘complex circumstances’.

Personally I feel this is just one of many reasons to kill the REF.  The REF seems to me to be a draconian, costly, fundamentally damaging exercise, one that in the end will only succeed in consolidating even more money in universities which already dominate the research landscape.  I fail to see how this is beneficial for UK higher education, when surely the universities on the lower end of the scale could use a leg up in their efforts to become competitive?  Why do we need a mechanism to create even more of a gap between the top and bottom of the league tables?

Meanwhile, this senseless race for money and prestige creates an immense human cost, causing increased stress, workload pressures, and workplace bullying and harassment.  The REF also exacerbates the growing gap between permanent faculty and fixed-term postdocs, as fixed-term academics are completely ignored by REF.  It’s clearly too late now to stop this REF, but I do sincerely hope we can make this the final one.  This whole poorly-conceived exercise does nothing but cause significant damage to the academic community and should be stopped.

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