UCU fights contractual research income targets

April 9, 2009

New clauses in academics' contracts at the Glasgow School of Art that set annual targets for research income have been criticised by the University and College Union.

The clauses call on researchers to take up the "challenge" of bringing in new cash, but some fear that the targets will become binding and that academics' jobs could be at risk if they fail to deliver.

Nicholas Oddy, senior lecturer in historical and critical studies at Glasgow, proposed a motion at the UCU Scotland Congress late last month attacking the move, which was passed unanimously.

He said it would compromise academic quality as staff focused on earning income instead of their primary role of conducting research.

The motion said the UCU "condemns the action of the (school) in introducing annual financial targets into academic research posts".

It also called on universities to "put academic quality first, to respect national and locally agreed academic role profiles, and remove financial targets or challenges from the contracts of ... researchers".

A spokeswoman for the Glasgow School of Art said: "The introduction of annual financial targets for researchers is not at odds with the academic role profiles for research staff.

"(These) profiles include the provision to generate funds. The introduction of financial targets in this context is reasonable."

She added that Glasgow does not accept that there is a necessary conflict between academic quality and generating income.

"In many cases that income will derive from UK research councils, where the award of funds is based on academic quality," she said.

hannah.fearn@tsleducation.com.

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