Brian Bryan, our Deputy Head of REF Strategy, has defended Hefce's decision to omit Polish and Portuguese speakers from its new modern languages subpanel for the research excellence framework.
He agreed that this development made it impossible for members of the subpanel to evaluate research work carried out in either of these languages. However, he felt that the past history of research evaluation amply demonstrated the capacity of panel members to come to conclusions about the value of research by drawing upon their background knowledge of the prestige of the university from which it emanated and their personal views about the general likeability of its authors.
He also said he had no problem with the revelation that not one of the Hispanists on the modern languages and linguistic subpanel had any prior experience of evaluating research.
"It's my firm belief that when you are dealing with a system of assessment that is engaged in making dubious decisions on the basis of inadequate and partial evidence, it's often an advantage to recruit people who have little or no idea what they're talking about."
Syllogism for beginners
These are busy times for Dr Q. Function, our Professor of Advanced Logic. Only a fortnight ago, his research team successfully concluded its investigation into the apparent logical incompatibility between David Willetts' proposal to obliterate the teaching grant for the humanities and social sciences and his assertion that "the humanities and social sciences are essential to a civilised society".
We now learn that Dr Function and his team have already embarked upon a new research project into the possible logical incompatibility between the government's slashing of public spending on higher education and the recent claim by Steve Smith, head of Universities UK, that media references to the "government's slashing of public spending on higher education" were "factually inaccurate".
Dr Function said that although the matter was "marginally complicated" by UUK's well-established policy of eschewing rationality in favour of "speaking agreement to power", he and his team expected to have the latest investigation completed within the "next 10 minutes".
The full English
We have been asked to report that following the recent meeting of the University Restructuring and Rationalisation Committee, there have been a number of revisions to the prospectus entry for English and Related Studies. All staff are asked to make the following amendments to their current copies:
• Professor F.R. Beavis: Head of Department (phased severance)
• Dr D.W.B. Bentinck: Reader (redeployment imminent)
• Dr T.S. Coker: Senior Lecturer (moved sideways)
• Dr E. Lamb: Lecturer (redundant)
• Dr Q.R. Montefiore: Lecturer (involuntary retirement)
• Dr W. Finnegan: Lecturer (at risk)
We hope this clarifies the situation.
Thought for the Week
(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)
"I am seriously disturbed by the news that a large lump of substance that was handed around the group for informational purposes at last week's seminar on Substance Abuse was not returned to the speaker at the end of the session. This is no laughing matter."