Axe hangs over 5-rated team

November 2, 2007

Researchers at Bournemouth University's prestigious National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA) are angry at plans by the university to enter them into the research assessment exercise and then axe a number of their jobs, writes Zoë Corbyn.

The Times Higher reported in September that up to 50 academics were to be made redundant at the university. The NCCA's 12 research fellows - most of whom have been entered into the RAE - were told in mid-September that four would be likely to lose their jobs, with the university considering CVs to decide which. The NCCA was rated 5 in the last RAE, and the researchers expect a very good result in the 2008 exercise round.

"They are prodigious performers for the RAE. They are raking in the money for the university and at the very same time they have this sword hanging over their heads," Bournemouth University College Union chair Kevin Moloney told The Times Higher .

"We feel used by the system," said one researcher, who wanted to remain anonymous. "If they had told us earlier, each of us would have found another place. After the RAE, it is much harder to find another job.

"We are the only group in the entire university who scored a 5 and there is a feeling we are bringing in more than enough money for us and other people."

A spokesman for Bournemouth said: "Bournemouth University is proud of the achievements of the NCCA, which is one of its centres of academic excellence. Bournemouth University's recently approved strategic plan is focused on investing to enhance the capabilities and reputation of the NCCA and its other centres of academic excellence.

"Any decisions on changing academic posts within the NCCA will be taken after a period of consultation, which concludes on November 16. One of the proposed criteria for selection of staff for redundancy, subject to consultation, is national and international research reputation," the spokesman added.

Other redundancies are also understood to be falling in the university's Media School. "Anybody in the entire school could be made redundant," said one concerned professor.

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