Funding the Uneconomic?

1422405_money_polandWell yes, there are some things that can’t be recognised in monetary terms, so how do we ensure that such initiatives get funded?

“The relevant, recognised and desirable impacts of research, we are told repeatedly, go way beyond the purely economic. There are some things in life which cannot be measured in economic terms – and this includes many research impacts,” he writes.


But he notes that in its attempts to justify the economic impact of research, the Arts and Humanities Research Council – whose literature “sometimes suggests that it is really desperate to demonstrate impact” – inevitably concentrates on the research it funds in heritage, archaeology and museums, which feed into fee-charging exhibitions.

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UKOLN Disappears :-(

Times are tough in academia:

A university-based centre of expertise that advises on digital infrastructure, information policy and data management across the sector has made two-thirds of its staff redundant after cuts to its funding.

Ukoln, formerly known as the United Kingdom Office for Library and Information Networking, has made 16 of its 24 University of Bath-based staff redundant after the cessation of a £622,000 annual grant from the higher education technology body Jisc.

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Funding affects student makeup?

This is so true:

“Mature students are not studying as a leisure activity,” he said. “We found that they are actually more ambitious and career-focused than younger students.”

Most mature students are a delight to teach, as they know why they are there, know how to apply the skills of the workplace or managing a home, etc to the demands of study. However, support for lifelong learning doesn’t entirely seem to be there:

The OECD report that accompanied the strategy launch stresses the need for people to keep learning throughout their lives. Skills can otherwise “depreciate” as labour markets change and individuals forget those they do not use, it says.

As university itself costs more and more, what impact is that going to have upon postgraduate studies?

Chris Hearn, head of education at Barclays Corporate, told THE that the bank had been speaking to BIS and universities about how to help the first cohort of graduates to leave university under the higher undergraduate fee regime in 2015.

“What is their appetite going to be to then go into postgraduate study, especially taught postgraduate study?” he said.

A couple of stories in Times Higher Education demonstrate worrying changes in funding that could affect that:


The Women’s Library

The Women's Library

Call for the government to earmark funding for the Women’s Library:

Just over a decade ago, in early 2002, I attended the opening of the Women’s Library in Old Castle Street, East London, in a fine new building constructed on the site of some former wash houses. It was a wonderful event. Antonia Byatt, the library’s first director, gave an upbeat address, as did Tessa Jowell, who was culture minister at the time. Women and men from all sides of the political spectrum were there. The great and the good gladly rubbed shoulders with us lesser mortals, wine glasses in our hands. We all felt that at long last, this unique collection about women’s lives in the past and present had a proper home. That it all came about was due to a £4.2 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the support of London Guildhall University, and (especially) the enormous efforts of a large number of people, including the Friends of the Library.

What a difference a decade makes. On 14 March this year, the board of governors at London Metropolitan University (formed in 2002 by the merger of London Guildhall and the University of North London) announced that the institution could no longer afford to maintain the Women’s Library, nor the Trades Union Congress Library, at a joint cost of approximately £1 million a year.

It was proposed that if by the end of December 2012 a new home, owner or sponsor of the Women’s Library could not be found, then opening hours would be limited to one day a week for a period of three years, with a further review after that. It was also decided that further investigation would be undertaken into the feasibility of constructing a lecture theatre within the library building to meet the demand on that campus for a medium-sized lecture space.

Read full story or visit The Women’s Library.

Academic Digital

Open Publishing: Hot Topic

The debate about open publishing, etc. continues:

Tensions between publishers and funding bodies over open access to research papers have flared up again after the Publishers Association accused Research Councils UK of riding roughshod over publishers’ concerns in a new draft policy on open access.

The policy, which RCUK hopes to adopt by the summer, stipulates that the final version of papers produced with funding from any of the science research councils must be made freely available online within six months of publication.

Research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Arts and Humanities Research Council would have to become open access within 12 months. RCUK would hope to see this period reduced to six once publishers in these fields, which are often smaller than science publishers, were ready to make the transition.

But the Publishers Association, which represents UK publishing companies, criticised the proposals and said it had not been consulted.

It said in a statement that “more in sadness than anger, we have little option but to oppose this policy”.

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