Sunday, 21 December 2014

Mass redundancies in social science and humanities likely if research funding proposals are implemented

The Government is not only cutting back on the amount of research money available to universities, but it is considering a plan that is likely to radically shift the balance of research funding away from the residual elements still given to arts and social sciences and towards science subjects. This will, using my back-of-the-envelope calculation, lead to the loss of around 6000 academic jobs in social sciences, humanities and arts.

The large bulk of the research money already goes to science. In the case of the Research Councils, who fund research on a project by project basis, less than 10 per cent of the money goes to social science, humanities or arts. It is the so-called 'QR' funding stream, awarded mainly on the basis of the 6 yearly ''research excellence framework' audits, that gives a larger amount of research money for non-science subjects (about 30 per cent of 'QR' funds).

But, as can be seen in the Guardian article (see link below), the Government is backing a plan to distribute the QR money in the future through the Research Councils. If the Research Councils distribute the funds diverted from QR in the same proportions to science, social science etc as they do now, then funding for social science, arts and humanities will be cut from its current figure of around £730 million to about £400 million - a massive cutback. How many social science and humanities academics do you lose for £330 million? - quite a lot!

Of course a lot of argument might persuade the Government to allow a higher proportion of total funds to be given to Research Councils such as the ESRC and AHRC than is the case now, but the losses to the social sciences arts and humanities compared to the present system are still likely to be massive. This is especially when you take into account the real decline in total research spending that is happening.

How can the Government get away with this? Well, maybe they hope to win by divide and rule. After all, the scientists, engineers etc will get more money...............

But the social science and humanities academics had better wise up (and rise up!) pretty quick, or maybe just emigrate!

If you want to look at the stats and stories, see some references below:

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