Shopping for brains

September 29, 1995

Michael Gruneberg, Alan Jenkins and Richard Mullender raise important questions about the forthcoming research assessment exercise (THES, September 15). But one issue which they did not mention is that of relatively affluent universities "buying CVs" from poorer institutions.

The significant academic staff mobility at this point in time is being achieved in two ways. First, by advertising non-specific posts guaranteed to carry low teaching and administrative loads and secondly by the even more spurious practice of personal contact by telephone inviting selected academics to "apply" for non-advertised posts.

The implications for equal opportunities are self-evident. The consequences for institutional rankings in the research assessment exercise and for the career prospects and conditions of service of individual academics are also fairly clear.

Yet when the results of the assessment are published they will be treated as an objective measure of the quality of the research carried out by individuals and institutions. Such is the logic and morality of the market place, but might one not have expected slightly better from the academic community?

Marie Macey Senior lecturer in sociology University of Bradford

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