AUT may boycott new RAE

May 3, 2002

Almost 50,000 lecturers may boycott any future research assessment exercise if funding chiefs fail to spell out in advance how the money will be allocated.

After the outcry from lecturers, vice-chancellors and MPs over the Higher Education Funding Council for England's failure to fully fund last year's RAE, the Association of University Teachers is to discuss the boycott at its summer council in Eastbourne next week.

A motion from the local association at Queen Mary, University of London, calls on the executive to organise a boycott. It says the AUT should highlight the damaging impact of the RAE on the National Health Service, where research funding cuts in medical schools will lead to job losses.

The motion says that there should be a campaign to "restore cuts in funding suffered by departments who laboured successfully to improve their research ratings".

A separate motion from Queen Mary, backed by the executive, calls for "industrial action" against compulsory redundancies resulting from the "financial crisis in many institutions" brought about by the RAE funding decisions.

A motion from the Leeds AUT says: "Council reaffirms its belief that RAEs have a deleterious effect on equal opportunities and on teaching. Council therefore instructs the executive to campaign against any future RAE."

Other motions include:

  • An executive bid to gain formal approval for the first joint academic unions' pay claim, calling for increases of up to 15 per cent. A separate motion calls on the executive to consider "all forms of industrial and demonstrative action" to press the case for an increase in funding for pay
  • An attack on the "auditing culture" that is "reducing the quality of teaching and research, and exacerbating a workload crisis"
  • An executive call to boycott the international university alliance Universitas 21. The AUT said that the group planned to set up international online degree courses using a model "that does not possess direct mechanisms for democratic process and freedom of expression consonant with the principles of higher education"
  • A call for a "national partnership agreement" to counter local bargaining
  • A call to resist planned changes to redundancy, disciplinary, dismissal and grievance procedures that threaten academic freedom.

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