Time's up for 'Big Society'

June 2, 2011

Nearly 4,000 signatories have backed a petition calling on the Arts and Humanities Research Council to remove the "Big Society" from its Delivery Plan for strategic research funding with immediate effect. More than 30 learned societies agreed a joint statement supporting the aims of the petition: political campaign slogans should have no place in research council delivery plans.

Now David Willetts, the universities and science minister, has warned that "research councils will doubtless want to reflect on the hazards of referring at all to current political slogans!" ("'We cannot be certain about every step. But the journey will be worthwhile'", 26 May). The more Rick Rylance, the Ahrc chief executive, has tried to wish this issue away in recent weeks, the more this unprecedented opposition has grown.

It is now clear that the AHRC has lost the argument. Any further refusal to remove references to the Big Society from its Delivery Plan will only continue to foster a growing lack of confidence in its leadership on an issue of great concern for many in the sector. The time for action is now so that we may best rebuild trust to face the daunting challenges ahead.

Thom Brooks, Newcastle University, Member, AHRC Peer Review College

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy