Cardiff conference stars must pay if they want to display

August 2, 2002

Academics at a top-rated Cardiff University school have been told they must pay their own way if they want to attend conferences next year, writes Phil Baty.

Staff in the school of English, communication and philosophy, which was awarded a 5* rating in last year's research assessment exercise, said the university was "stupid" to expect them to fund a fundamental part of scholarly activity from their own pockets.

In a memo, school head David Skilton announced: "At a meeting of heads of sections, it was decided that (the school's) top priority should be the safeguarding of jobs, and that in consequence no conference attendance will be supported in 2002-03, unless already approved."

Staff at the school are organising a petition against the cuts.

A spokesman for the Association of University Teachers said: "This is a shoddy state of affairs. If we are supposed to have an international profile, we should be able to go out into the world and deliver our good work."

The university declined to discuss the school's financial health in detail. In previous years it set aside about £750 a year for each staff member to attend conferences.

A university spokeswoman said the freeze was a temporary measure.

She said: "Cardiff University fully advocates its academics' contribution to conferences as a valuable means of career development, a means of establishing interdisciplinary and cross-institutional research links and an essential element in establishing an international research identity."

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