The British Academy has responded to the consultation on the second Research Excellence Framework. The consultation document set out the proposals of the four UK higher education funding bodies for the second Research Excellence Framework (REF) for the assessment of research in UK higher education institutions.
The Academy welcomed the direction of travel in Lord Stern’s Independent Review, ‘Building on Success and Learning from Experience’, particularly around the definition of Impact, and its efforts to reduce the distortion of research careers as a result of the REF and the burden of the exercise. The Academy is encouraged that the principles of the Stern Review are to be operationalised, building on the existing measures in REF2014.
The British Academy welcomes the opportunity to respond to this inquiry. The Academy has undertaken extensive work to address the deficit in quantitative skills (QS) in the UK, through its Quantitative Skills Programme (QS), a 5-year programme funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). The programme was guided by the British Academy’s High Level Strategy Group for Quantitative Skills, chaired by Professor Sir Ian Diamond FBA.
The response makes the following key points:
Quantitative skills (QS) are vital for all citizens, enabling them to participate more fully in the democratic process, enhancing research in universities and in the work place, and supporting the economy
Social sciences, and even the humanities, provide a rich context for the development of ‘STEM skills’, in particular QS, in addition to mathematics and science.
There needs to be a range of alternative routes for the study of QS post-16, including in further education
The inclusion of QS in social science curricula throughout the education pipeline could help to deliver ‘STEM skills’ to underrepresented groups including females and students from disadvantaged or ethnic minority backgrounds.
The recruitment, retention and professional development of data-literate teachers across the sciences, social sciences and humanities are important.
The Q-Step Programme should be rolled out nationally.
A joint submission from the four UK National Academies to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee.
The British Academy welcomes the opportunity to respond to Professor Sir Adrian Smith’s review of post-16 mathematics provision in England. This response draws on the extensive work the Academy has undertaken as part of its Quantitative Skills (QS) Programme, to address the deficit in QS in the UK. In particular the reponse draws on the Academy's Count Us In report which offers a vision of how the UK can rise to the potentially transformational challenge of becoming a data-literate nation.
The response highlights the following key points:
The ability to understand and interpret data is an essential feature of life in the 21st century: vital for the economy, for our society and for us as individuals.
The development of QS post-16 is essential for progression to higher education and employment, and should be compulsory for all up to 18.
This review should address both schools and further education colleges
Higher education institutes have an important role to play in signalling to schools the importance of QS.
A number of subjects, beyond simply mathematics and science, provide a rich context for the development of quantitative skills in schools
Teacher supply, initial teacher training and CPD will be crucial across a breadth of subjects
There is an important role for policy-makers, learned societies/subject associations and exam boards to play in curricula development and teacher supply and training.
applied to the operation of the TEF in Year Two, which corresponded to the academic year 2016/17.
July 2016: British Academy responds to Teaching Excellence Framework: technical consultation for year 2The British Academy has responded to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills' Teaching Excellence Framework: technical consultation for year 2. The consultation applied to the operation of the TEF in Year Two, which corresponded to the academic year 2016/17.
3 May 2016: British Academy submits evidence to the House of Commons Science & Technology Committee inquiry into Science CommunicationThe British Academy has submitted written evidence to the House of Commons Science & Technology Committee's inquiry on how the Government, scientists, the media and others encourage and facilitate public awareness of – and engagement in – science.
March 2016: The British Academy responds to Lord Stern’s review of the Research Excellence Framework The British Academy has submitted written evidence to the Lord Stern's review of the Research Excellence Framework. The review examined how university research funding can be allocated more efficiently so that universities can focus on carrying out world-leading research.
6 February 2016: British Academy submits evidence to House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee on Responses to the Strathclyde Review The British Academy has submitted written evidence to the House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee seeking responses to the Strathclyde Review, which recommended changes to the way the upper house scrutinises legislation.
22 January 2016: British Academy responds to Higher Education Green PaperThe British Academy welcomes the opportunity to respond to the Government’s proposals in the Green Paper "Higher education: teaching excellence, social mobility and student choice". Our response provides general comments on the main themes and proposals in the Green Paper, and we look forward to working closely with Government on further details as proposals develop. The response by the British Academy highlights the following points:
- Dual support is central to the continued success and strength of the UK’s research base. Every possible step must be taken to ensure that this is maintained in any new structure, and we would recommend that dual support be written in to the constitution of Research UK.
- By not conceiving of the HE and research system as a whole, Government risks developing a system of policy and regulation that does not reflect the ways in which universities operate.
- The separation of research and teaching – both in terms of institutions of regulation, and policymaking – risks driving the two further apart, and would make the best quality of teaching, that which is research-led, less likely.
- It is not clear where overall system-wide oversight, including of subject-level risks and research capacity, would sit in the new structure.
- Any new system for measuring the quality of teaching must learn lessons from assessing quality in research, and be wary of creating too much burden, or setting in motion incentives that are undesirable.
- The use of metrics to assess teaching quality should be done with caution, particularly in the case of student opinion.
A response to the House of Lords Constitution Committee inquiry on How to Stabilise and Strengthen the Union.
The Academy submitted evidence to the inquiry, highlighting the opportunities of big data, and its associated challenges and risks.
The British Academy has given views on the Government's 'Productivity Plan', highlighing how investment in research is strongly linked to increased productivity.
September 2015: Response to OND within DECC on Implementing Geological Disposal: Working with Communities
The British Academy has given views on the Government's 'Productivity Plan', highlighing how investment in research is strongly linked to increased productivity.
The British Academy submitted a response to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee inquiry into reforming the science budget to make the UK a global competitor in R&D.
August 2015: Response to the Work and Pensions Committee on Pension Freedom Advice and Guidance The British Academy resubmitted a report on changes to pensions to inform the Committee's thinking on this topic.
5 June 2015: British Academy responds to consultation on support for postgraduate studyUnder the Coalition, the Government opened a consultation on proposals to introduce loans for postgraduate taught master's degrees and to improve support for research students.The Academy welcomes the opportunity to contribute to this important review, particularly following its previous work in this area. This response notes with enthusiasm the commitment to providing loans for taught postgraduate study. It highlights the complexities of the postgraduate research ecosystem, suggesting that the most efficient and effective method for funding the very best PhD students is through the Research Council studentships.
24 April 2015: British Academy submits evidence to Nurse Review of Research CouncilsThis submission by the British Academy highlights the following points:
- We strongly support the current structure of dual support for UK research funding. This allows for a common funding ‘ladder’ of grants, of which all parts are an essential component, each enabling and complementing the other.
- Capacity should be maintained for both investigator-led and strategically-led research.
- As per our submission to the triennial review of the research councils, we do not see any benefit in merging the ESRC and the AHRC.
- Indeed, based on the size of the research community in the humanities and social sciences, the quality of the output, and the significance of the challenges we face as a society, there is a strong case for re-examining the low proportion of research council funding currently allocated to the AHRC and the ESRC.
- Enhanced collaboration between the research councils could be achieved through a more prominent role for RCUK.
The British Academy has responded to the HEFCE survey on internationalising the Research Excellence Framework (REF). The survey sought views on the potential benefits and challenges of expanding the UK’s research assessment system on an international basis.
The Academy’s response highlights the need for clarity on the model, aims and intended benefits of internationalisation of the REF and also notes issues that might affect the Humanities and Social Sciences in particular.
The British Academy submitted written evidence to a Political and Constitutional Reform Committee inquiry on The Future of Devolution after the Referendum. The submission presents recommendations to the question posed by the Committee, regarding the future and nature of devolution in the UK in the aftermath of the Scottish Referendum on independence.
This submission by the British Academy highlights the need for RCUK Policy on Open Access to be sensitive to the distinctive features of publishing in the humanities and social sciences (HSS). It discusses evidence of compliance with the ‘Green’ Open Access embargo periods and considers the impact of a requirement for Creative Commons licensing on HSS.
Find out more about how the British Academy has contributed to the debate on Open Access.
The British Academy and Honor Frost Foundation Steering Committee on Underwater Cultural Heritage submitted written evidence to aCulture, Media and Sport Committee inquiry into Tourism. The submission presents evidence into the UK's maritime heritage as one of its greatest domestic and international assets, and how it could make a greater contribution to the UK's tourism industry.
The British Academy has responded to the Government’s consultation on its Science and Innovation strategy. This advice develops the common concerns that were emphasised in the joint statement from all four national academies (Aacdemy of Medical Sciences, British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering, and Royal Society). The British Academy wholeheartedly supports the joint response, including its central proposition that a stable 10 year investment framework and a broad research base are essential for research, innovation and skills. In this response there is a particular focus on how the humanities and social sciences contribute to the UK’s ability to maintain its comparative advantages.
The UK's four national academies - the British Academy, the Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Academy of Medical Sciences - have jointly responded to the Government's Consultation on Proposals for Long-Term Capital Investment in Science and Research.
The British Academy has responded to the Higher Education Funding Council for England's call for evidence for its review of the role of metrics in research assessment. In our response, we emphasise the consensus across all disciplines that the most reliable way to assess research is by means of peer review, and that while metrics may inform the assessments of specialist panels, they cannot be a sustitute for them.
The British Academy submitted written evidence to a Political and Constitutional Reform Committee inquiry on Voter Engagement in the UK. The submission presents evidence to the inquiry on the reasons for British society's disengagement with politics, the impact of lower voter engagement, as well as strategies to improve voter turnout.
The significant challenges facing the EU can only be addressed by looking to solutions from across the entire spectrum of research – medicine, natural sciences, social sciences, humanities and arts. It is vital that the EU provides opportunities for interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research to address these challenges. And this research must be funded in a stable, long-term manner to provide researchers with the support to discover these solutions, identify how to apply them, and understand the implications for the many and diverse societies which constitute the EU.
The British Academy also contributed to the response from the All European Academies (ALLEA). That response is available to read on ourInternational policy page
16 April 2013: British Academy gives evidence to House of Commons select committee inquiry into open access
Professor Chris Wickham, British Academy Vice-President, appeared in front of the House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee on Tuesday 16 April to give evidence as part of its inquiry into open access. In his evidence, Professor Wickham continued to make the case for a slower, more nuanced approach to implementing open access for research findings, and argued for a better understanding of the issues surrounding licence conditions. You can watch the committee hearing on Parliament TV here.
The British Academy has offered advice to the Higher Education Funding Council for England to support it in developing the forthcoming consultation on the role of open access publishing in the submission of outputs to the post-2014 Research Excellence Framework.
The British Academy has responded to the RCUK’s call for comments on its Open Access Policy and Supporting Guidance, published earlier this month. We criticise the limited amount of time given by RCUK to offer comments on such an important policy, particularly in light of the recent report from the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee that noted the lack of previous consultation. In our response, we call on the RCUK to improve the clarity and consistency of its guidelines on embargo periods and licences to take into account the impact on the humanities and social sciences. We also urge RCUK to be clear about how the policy will be reviewed and to engage more widely with universities and subject bodies on any further changes, in order to reflect different publication practices across the full spectrum of disciplines.
18 January 2013: Academy submits evidence to House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee inquiry into the implementation of open accessThe British Academy has submitted evidence to the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee to support its inquiry into the implementation of open access. We have reiterated our concern that the current policies are being implemented too quickly and without a full understanding of the likely impact on humanities and social sciences disciplines. A particular point of concern is the discrepancy between positions on embargo periods. The Finch Report and the Government both expressed the view that these needed to be considered carefully, with an embargo period of 24 months not being unreasonable. RCUK, however, has stated that the maximum embargo period would be 12 months. It is important to ensure that the policies on open access are appropriate and sustainable rather than rush into a one-size-fits-all approach.