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What does the future hold for research?

Released: 31.03.15


Our Vice-Chancellor speaks at the HEPI-Elsevier Research Conference.

Organised by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), Times Higher Education and Elsevier, the event 'Reflections on REF2014: Research Assessment and Funding from 2014 to 2020 and beyond', took place on 31 March.

The Vice-Chancellor Professor Cara Aitchison’s speech posed three main questions:

  • 'How should we maintain current excellence while developing potential?’
  • ‘How should we support multi-,inter- and trans-disciplinary research?’ 
  • ‘How should we support small and specialist institutions without diminishing the impact of the research-intensive universities?’

She said: ‘”I’m delighted to have been invited to speak at such an important event. This was the first opportunity since the publication of the results of REF2014 to hold discussions designed to inform the sector’s thinking about how research quality will be assessed in REF2020.

“The evaluation of REF2014 has demonstrated that small and specialist institutions play a disproportionately significant role in the production of research in a range of subject areas including sport, art, music and enterprise. This is even more the case in relation to research with impact.

“This is very clear in the Sub-Panel that I chaired for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism and the conference provided an opportunity to showcase some of the impact case studies in sport.

“Case studies demonstrated widespread international impacts in tackling some of the most significant and entrenched global challenges of the 21st century in relation to: health, wellbeing and disease prevention; international development, conflict resolution and peace-building; and sustainable development, regeneration and social inclusion.”

The event was Chaired by The Rt Hon David Willetts, MP and former Minister for Science and Universities.

Speakers were:

  • David Sweeney, Director of Research, Education and Knowledge Exchange at HEFCE
  • Professor Paul Boyle, VC at the University of Leicester and former Chief Executive of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
  • Professor Dame Julia Goodfellow, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kent and incoming Chair of Universities UK
  • Professor Graeme Reid, Professor of Science and Research Policy at University College London and former Head of Research Funding at BIS
  • Dr Stephen Hill, Head of Research Policy at HEFCE 

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