In a devastating attack upon academia, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has proposed that university funding should be tied to "economic, social, public policy, cultural and quality of life impacts".
The results of its introduction would have awful consequences. Writing in the Telegraph, Professor of philosophy, Ralph Wedgwood, sets out how his own subject would be entirely politicized if the Research Excellence Framework came to pass. Impact would be measured through the ability of arguments to change law, which would inevitably favour academics who pandered to the politicians. The same would be seen across all areas research. Politicians might as well be giving the lectures.
Educators for Reform have been leading the attack against this preposterous idea. They are rightly concerned that it would also corporatise universities, ‘turning our world class research universities into nothing more than functionalist extensions of corporate Research and Development departments’, crowding out private sector research.
This is part of Lord Mandelson’s ideology of controlling research, whereby the lines between government, university and business are blurred. This is both disturbing and bad policy. It is disturbing because politics, business and education should be kept as separate as possible to help ensure power is divided. It is bad policy because governments and quangos will obviously prove unable to determine what research will be of value.