Union denounces review tactics

June 13, 1997

David Triesman, general secretary of the Association of University Teachers, has called on Glasgow University to launch an immediate inquiry into its research assessment exercise strategy. Interviewing individual academics about their research work was intimidating, he said.

Glasgow improved its rating significantly in the latest RAE, but its funding dropped by Pounds 2 million, partly because only 76 per cent of staff were submitted as "research active". Glasgow's principal, Sir Graeme Davies, has announced a "rigorous review" aimed at improving research performance and assessing how individuals can best contribute to the university.

But the local AUT has condemned the interviews as potentially intimidatory and demoralising. Mr Triesman said he had not come across another institution that classified so many staff as research inactive when they were clearly research active.

"People who would certainly have done as well as their peers were not in the scheme, and I suspect from what I've seen that this was a very serious tactical error, which staff are now suffering from," he said.

Sir Graeme could not be blamed, since the strategy predated his arrival, Mr Triesman stressed. "He is one of the leading thinkers about the administration of higher education, and it's difficult to think of someone better to get it right."

Sir Graeme was abroad on university this week business, but a senior spokesman defended Glasgow's strategy as producing the best possible results both in terms of increasing ratings and maximising income.

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