Examination of Witnesses (Questions 40-59)|
WEDNESDAY 3 JULY 2002
40. Is that the same with you, Robert and Liz?
Could you manage it better?
(Dr Rugg) I think it is very difficult on short-term
contracts to attract funding for research as an independent PI.
That is one of the issues. You do not really get the opportunity
to manage it because there are very few places that you can apply
41. You must spend a bit of time trying to get
more grants or suck up to the right people.
(Dr Rugg) Absolutely.
42. Who can get grants for you. Can you estimate
that in any way?
(Dr Rugg) In terms of the amount of time?
(Dr Rugg) Most of my time.
(Dr Goodess) Yes.
44. It is not all upfront, it is at the top
of the agenda.
(Dr Rugg) Yes.
45. Is that the same with Robert and Clare?
(Dr Goodess) Yes.
(Mr Patton) I would say it takes at least three months
probably to put a good funding proposal together and to be sure
it is going to be accepted and three months out of a one year
contract is a long time not to be doing what you are employed
to be doing.
46. Do you put it in your own names or do you
have to have some more permanent academic fronting it?
(Mr Patton) It helps to have somebody more senior
than yourself but if you do not get your name on it then it is
not necessarily going to be you that is working on the project.
In my department we have had an issue recently where somebody
did not have their name put on a funding proposal that they helped
to prepare and they had to apply through the usual procedures
to try and get that job.
47. They had to apply to get the job they had
written the job description for?
(Mr Patton) Yes.
(Dr Goodess) Can I just add that does depend on the
funding body. For example, I have a European Union grant which
is a 2 million euro project which I am co-ordinating. They are
quite happy for me to do that but the UK research councils will
not even allow me to be named on a £30,000 small grant.
48. What effect do you think this has had on
the quality of research which you have been able to do during
your careers or now even, given the sort of effect on morale,
the time you will have to take out constantly preparing new proposals
to exist? Do you think if you had a more secure background you
would have been able to do more work or better work?
(Dr Goodess) Yes, and it would have affected you differently
at different stages of the career. I think earlier on it would
have taken off some of the stress and worry. What I would really
like now is some funding for the time I spend writing proposals.
At the moment I am working 70 hour weeks just to try and keep
bringing the money in. Even then I feel it is affecting the work
I am contracted to do because in theory 100 per cent of my time
belongs to the funding body and I am trying to do an academic's
job on top of that, writing proposals. I am the editor of an academic
journal and supervise PhD students.
49. In theory, according to Gareth Roberts and
so on, research fellowships to short-term research workers are
in training posts. Do you ever get any training throughout your
careers as short-term researchers or have you been left to swim
on your own?
(Mr Patton) I have trained other researchers to give
them a better chance than I have had. The training that is available
tends to be part of the university standard personnel training
packages, nothing too specific.
(Dr Rugg) I have received a little bit of training
in teaching which I have taken up in my current position but as
the researcher I do not think I have ever received any formal
50. Over a period of years can I ask whether
your salaries have gone like the FTSE index, up to the top and
down to the bottom? It does seem a rather erratic existence, particularly
if you are paying a mortgage or have commitments similar to mortgages.
(Dr Goodess) No. I guess I have been lucky in some
ways in that I have been promoted but that does come at a cost
because my salary is going up I am pricing myself out. Now I tend
to find that I can only put my salary a few months on a particular
project because otherwise it would be too expensive. At the moment,
for example, I am working on three different research projects
and the rest of the work on those projects is being done by more
junior staff. It is promotion at personal cost in some ways.
(Mr Patton) For a period of about five years I was
stuck at the same grade due to jumping from one short term contract
to another and not being part of an incremental process. I was
also stuck at a bar and a salary grade which I was unable to progress
(Dr Rugg) I have been quite fortunate in that my salary
scale has progressed throughout my career. I was promoted past
the bar to senior lecturer in my current post.
51. Can I just ask you specifically Dr Rugg
a question. We had a debate last Thursday in the House on the
Research Assessment Exercise and I quoted a number of departments
which were in danger of closing or being severely reduced in numbers.
I think I quoted the London School of Medicine and Dentistry at
(Dr Rugg) That is right.
52. Is your department closing?
(Dr Rugg) We are undergoing currently an assessment
for compulsory redundancies.
53. The whole department?
(Dr Rugg) The whole of the medical school. They are
going to need to lose a number of staff which is one of the reasons
why my position is probably not going to continue.
54. That was the point I was coming to. There
must be a fair number of short-term contracts in that department
for that reason and that must be replicated across the country.
(Dr Rugg) I presume so.
55. There are a similar number of departments
now at risk.
(Dr Rugg) Yes.
56. That is an interesting point that your school
should be looking to redundancies and potential closures at a
time when we have a shortage of medical graduates.
(Dr Rugg) Yes.
57. I find this very difficult to reconcile.
(Dr Rugg) We all do.
58. Just who do you think is responsible? Do
you think it is the university management or does it lie elsewhere?
It does sound very strange indeed.
(Dr Rugg) I think it is not only our institution that
is experiencing this. It is partly due to the expectation that
funding would continue at least at a similar level of funding
to previous RAEs. Clearly the formula that has been applied means
there is a huge shortfall. If the levels of funding had been applied
at the same levels as they have in the past I believe our institution
would have expected another two and a half million pounds a year
in its research income. I am not sure of the exact figures but
it will receive approximately two and a half million less.
59. It is a cut.
(Dr Rugg) It is a cut. It is an absolute cut.