Losers in a numbers game

December 26, 1997

I HAVE been told by my head of department at the Institute of Russian and East European studies, University of Glasgow, that my temporary contract will not be renewed when it expires in September 1998. I was bought into the department at the last RAE and it duly received a 5.

However, as I have published sufficient items since then for the next RAE, my departmental head and planning unit think it safe to let me go as the rules of the next RAE, they claim, mean that publications will count at the institution at which they were published.

I hope that such rules have not been set. After all, the "sale" of my publications is one of my key labour market assets. The buying-in policy of units for the last RAE may have been cynical, but, in today's flexible labour market, to take away "ownership" of output from authors opens up the possibility of even more cynical actions by university bureaucrats towards those on temporary contracts who are productive at "the wrong time".

Ian Thatcher

Temporary lecturer Institute of Russian and East European studies University of Glasgow

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