Monday, June 27, 2011

"Top academics threaten to resign over funding into big society research"

. . . has been published by The Guardian here. An excerpt:

"[. . .] Forty-three departmental heads and research leaders from Queen Mary's University in Belfast to Southampton University have put their names to a statement saying that they will quit as peer reviewers for the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) unless the body removes all references to the "big society" from its strategic delivery plan.

[. . .] The protest statement, which is signed by several British Academy fellows and six Oxford professors, reads: "We threaten to resign en masse from the AHRC Peer Review College if there are no clear steps taken to remove the 'big society' from the AHRC delivery plan."

[. . .] Thom Brooks, a philosophy professor at Newcastle University and one of the organisers of the protest, said that all the signatories to the statement were very senior academics who were not prone to making public complaints. "If you look at the list, people come from literally all over the country and these are not people you normally see protest. There are several fellows of the British Academy and people who have been on the peer review college since its inception," he said. "They have a deep interest in the AHRC and are supportive of it. No one wants to cause problems [but] it's because they care so much about the AHRC that they've been willing to stand up and speak to this issue," he added.

Brooks said that if the AHRC did not respond with "clear steps" outlining how it would remove the big society as a funding priority, the 43 academics would resign and could encourage others to follow their lead. "We are expecting that on Monday that [the AHRC] will publicly announce some very clear and positive steps to removing the big society from its delivery plan.

"We will lead from the front. If nothing happens by Monday we will all resign … and we will begin contacting other members of the college." He added: "The ball is in their court." [. . .]"

UPDATE: Now Poppleton University joins the campaign! Details here.

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