The efficiency agenda

October 30, 2014

Last week’s cover story (“Mass observation”, Features, 23 October) on the monitoring of academics raised some interesting points about staff assessment and academic freedom.

However, focusing on one element (“personnel”) of the ongoing work of the Universities UK efficiency and effectiveness task group as an introductory hook was confusing.

While human resources issues form a part of our work, this is not the focus of the task group. The group has a broad remit. Programmes of work have been established looking at asset sharing, the university estate, open data, how best to evidence efficiency savings and the impact of the Wakeham agenda. We have worked extensively with the sector to develop these programmes, and our final report will be published on 26 February.

In November 2013 David Willetts, then minister for universities and science, wrote to me and asked for the task group (which I chaired in 2010-11) to be reconvened. We must be prepared to make a robust case for investment in higher education, and for this we must be able to demonstrate that we are, and will continue to be, efficient and effective in our use of public money.

Our continued success as a sector is absolutely contingent on sustaining and supporting those features that have underpinned this success: autonomy, diversity and a commitment to excellence.

Sir Ian Diamond
Principal and vice-chancellor, University of Aberdeen
Chair, Universities UK Task Group on Efficiency, Effectiveness and Value for Money

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