LIST OF CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
1.The proportion of researchers working on fixed-term
contracts is too high. The starting point for any policy should
be to reduce this proportion. (paragraph 104).
2.It reflects poorly on all concerned that the
problems caused by the increasing number of CRS were identified
many years ago but so few of them have been solved (paragraph
3.We would like a world where good researchers
were successful on merit and less subject to an academic lottery
The Concordat and the Research Careers Initiative
4.The Concordat and the Research Careers Initiative
have focused on managing the problem rather than solving it (paragraph
5.It seems that some universities will do little
positive to address the issue of CRS unless forced by law or financial
penalty. Unless those failing to comply with the Research Careers
Initiative are named and shamed, it will continue to lack the
teeth it needs to make a real difference (paragraph 45).
6.Any new body set up to tackle the issue of research
careers must include the contract researchers themselves. The
group must not be divorced from the reality of their situation
7.Any new Concordat must build on the best aspects
of the first but it must not be simply a funders' charter. Its
signatories must come from all the key players, including government,
unions, the funding councils and the researchers themselves, and
its fine words must be backed up with a clear implementation strategy
to make sure things really do change this time (paragraph 47).
8.Universities will have to make financial provision
for redundancy payments and this must be taken into account by
both public and private funders of research (paragraph 60).
9.Universities must not see Employment Regulations
2002 as an excuse to refuse to renew existing contracts or to
award a researcher a new one so that the fouryear limit
is not reached (paragraph 62).
10. If the Model Statute has been an obstacle
to reducing the number of CRS, it begs the question as to why
universities have made no attempt to reform it before (paragraph
11.We find it hard to take seriously universities'
claims that they cannot afford to reduce their use of short-term
contracts, if they have not even calculated how much it would
cost (paragraph 79).
12.In the commercial world businesses have to
make predictions about their future income and productivity, and
plan accordingly. Universities reserve the right to look no further
than the end of the current research grant and place the entire
burden of risk onto researchers. CRS can be thankful that the
Employment Regulations are forcing universities to act (paragraph
13.We believe that the awarding of academic fellowships
should be based on a commitment from the host institution, where
possible, to provide permanent positions (paragraph 87).
14.Ultimately the responsibility for funding the
researchers in universities lies with Government (paragraph 100).
15.We recommend that the Government monitor the
effect of the revised Model Statute and consider the use of safeguards
to prevent its abuse (paragraph 67).
16.The Spending Review and the Strategy for Science
contain some commitments to positive action to address the problems
of contract researchers. We will monitor their effectiveness with
interest (paragraph 71).
17.The number of written submissions to the inquiry
and the strong views held by contract researchers who appeared
before us demonstrates that initiatives have failed to solve the
problem. The announcements in Spending Review 2002, the new Employment
Regulations, the JNCHES guidance and the prospect of a revised
Model Statute all give us hope that a resolution to the issue
of CRS is possible. Nevertheless, we feel that more positive action
is needed (paragraph 72).
18.We await the higher education review, more
in the hope than in the expectation that it will provide some
original and innovative thinking which tackles the management
of research in universities (paragraph 117).
19.The current crisis in science and engineering
research careers has arisen in part because the Government has
failed to recognise that the way in which it funds research in
universities impacts on the employment of contract researchers.
The situation demands an urgent rebalancing of the dual support
system (paragraph 116).
20.Research Council funding, regardless of the
level of overheads it pays, is directed and gives universities
little room to manouevre in the way it employs its staff. The
anticipated higher education budget must provide more money for
research and at least start to rebalance the dual support system
21.The salary increases for researchers announced
in the Spending Review are welcome, but the Government must realise
that unless it funds measures to give CRS a rewarding and secure
career, a mere pay rise will not be enough stop Britain's best
researchers turning their backs on science and engineering or
on the UK (paragraph 102).
22.Contract researchers are taken for granted
and badly treated but too many seem to embark on a career and
hope for the best. They need to look ahead and evaluate their
prospects. Ultimately, researchers must take responsibility for
their own careers (paragraph 74).
23.While we have sympathy with academics who have
a passion for their subject and simply want to do research, the
truth is that they have a managerial responsibility to the researchers
in their team. Too many, it seems, take the view that if they
survived so can everyone else. Times have changed (paragraph 77).
24.We are amazed that so little attention has
been given by universities to the disproportionately high level
of women CRS relative to permanent academic staff (paragraph 88).
Research Councils and Funding Councils
25.Although, some of the Research Councils have
good policies in some areas, these are not enough. We recommend
that Research Councils UK identify best practice among the Research
Councils and harmonise their policies towards contract research
staff (paragraph 115).
26.We welcome [the Athena Project and the Higher
Education Funding Council for England's investigation into women
in higher education] and recommend that they address the disproportionately
high number of women researchers working on short-term contracts
27.We recommend that the Funding Councils and
the Research Councils work together to establish the ethnic profile
of contract researchers and to take action to tackle any bias
or discrimination (paragraph 89).
28.We are encouraged that the Funding Councils
are considering mechanisms to reward universities with good employment
practice (paragraph 90).
29.The current review of higher education research
assessment must ensure that whatever follows the Research Assessment
Exercise does not disadvantage contract researchers (paragraph
30.The Funding Councils should consider using
the proportion of researchers on fixed-term contracts in a department
as a basis for calculating the university block grant (paragraph
31.We welcome the training grants for Research
Council-funded CRS announced in the Spending Review but there
is more that the Research Councils should be doing. It is not
clear to us why the Research Councils cannot treat their grants
as much as investments in people as in research. Their insistence
on passing the buck to the universities is shameful (paragraph
32.[The] idea of a training voucher system for
postdocs has merit and should be pursued (paragraph 96).
33.To prevent contract researchers, particularly
the more senior ones, from applying for Research Council grants
is demeaning and stifles good ideas. If one Research Council can
allow this then they all can. We recommend that all the Research
Councils allow contract researchers to apply for their grants
without delay (paragraph 97).
34.The continued excellence of the science base
requires that we fund the best people available for the duration
of a grant. We recommend that the Research Councils reassess their
practices to ensure that their grants fund the best people available
and not the cheapest (paragraph 98).
35.We must end the damaging distinction between
permanently employed academics and CRS. We must aim for security
for all higher education staff even if this means that none is
entitled to a job for life (paragraph 106).
36.This inquiry is focused on the problems created
by huge numbers of contract researchers but it is clear to us
that a resolution must embrace all academic staff employed in
higher education (paragraph 108).
37.We have received ideas on how to remodel the
management of research in our universities. We now need a Government
that will listen to them and is bold enough to act (paragraph
38.It is hard to identify a single culprit for
the continuing mistreatment of our research workforce, but top
of the list must be a management culture in some of our research-intensive
universities, which is callous and shortsighted. The universities
are underfunded, but that is not an excuse for poor management
39.Reviews, financial investment and changes in
the law can only achieve so much without tackling the fundamental
underlying attitudes and behaviours (paragraph 114).
40.To resolve the problem of huge numbers of research
staff working on short contracts, it is clear to us that university
management must change radically, not just at the top level but
in the way individual departments and research teams are managed