Celebrate stability

February 10, 2006

The letter "Unchanging times" (January ) complains that when universities move away from the use of fixed-term contracts for researchers this makes good headlines but is "functionally irrelevant". Surely the move away from excessive use of fixed-term contracts is to be welcomed.

Researchers report that these contracts create high levels of insecurity and principal investigators tell of project delays due to recruitment difficulties and due to researchers leaving early to find their next contract.

Following the Roberts review in 2002, the Office of Science and Technology funded Research Councils UK to establish 1,000 academic fellowships over five years, with the intent of creating more stable career paths in academia. And there is evidence that institutions are following this model.

There is, therefore, much to be applauded in the actions being taken to avoid the inappropriate use of fixed-term contracts.

Ian Lyne

Chair, RCUK Research Careers and Diversity Group

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