The REF and other ways to spend one’s time

I spent most of today at the inaugural Annual PhD Supervisors’ Conference at the University of Hull.  For me the highlight was the keynote by Adam Wright, a Research and Policy Officer for the National Union of Students.  The title of his talk was ‘Current and Future Issues for PGR students in the academic environment’, and one topic he touched upon was the effect the REF might be having in certain parts of the sector on the quality (and, simply, the amount) of supervision postgraduate research students receive.

It chimed with something else I was already planning to mention on here: a slightly gimmicky feature in this week’s THE in which a married academic couple debate (supposedly in their bedroom) the merits of the REF.  The whole piece is worth reading, but here’s one of my favourite bits (written by Andrew Oswald, professor of economics at Warwick):

[T]he academic’s life cycle should allow for different outputs at different stages.  Do we really want all professors in the latter part of their careers to focus on producing top publications instead of being a wise intellectual guide for the next generation?  Instead, we want some of our senior researchers to advise government, and lead our faculties and our universities.  They are needed as guardians of the academy.

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