EU & Academia: funding matters too – Prof Dame Athene Donald

Another leading physicist, Professor Dame Athene Donald of the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge has added her voice and a slightly difimage_normalferent perspective
to the discussion about Universities, academics and Brexit. She told me:
“As a member of the European Research Council Scientific Council I am very aware both of the
success of academics in the UK in obtaining ERC funding and also the
value people place on the ‘portability’ of grants awarded under these
schemes.

Continue reading

The ACBs: the Administrative Consequences of Brexit?

by Colin Talbot and Carole Talbot

Most of the debate around Brexit focuses of the big policy issues.

What tends to get ignored is the impact it will have on the UKs “machinery of government”.

Some of these impacts are fairly obvious, some much less so. Some are purely regulatory, others administrative and some a combination of both. But taken together they amount to a seismic shift in the machinery of British Government. Continue reading

Brexit and EU27 academics in the UK – breaking up is hard to do

border-eu-citizens-facebook_social_mediaYou “should now make arrangements to leave” (Home Office)

The UK’s University sector is one of our most valuable national assets” Professor Brian Cox, the University of Manchester academic and TV presenter, told me last week. Brian said that UK higher education “is a genuinely global industry generating billions of pounds in export earnings, one of the necessary foundations of our innovation-led economy and perhaps our strongest soft power asset; political and industrial leaders from all over the world were educated here in the UK.

Which makes it all the more strange why the Government should be, accidentally or deliberately, undermining our Universities. Most of the commentary on Brexit will have on UK Universities has concentrated on issues of funding, research cooperation and students. Much less attention has been paid to what keeps Universities running – academic staff – and what Brexit will mean for the thirty-thousand plus EU academics in the UK. Here are some of their personal experiences and what it means for our Universities.

How this all started for me…. Continue reading

Mobilsing Social Science Research for the Media – The Other Research Bureau?

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In a “post-truth” political world, facts have never been more important. Some are easy to find, others require some skill and knowledge to locate and analyse.

Media organizations and journalists are under ever greater pressure to produce sound, fact-based, reporting to counter the tidal wave of fake news and half-truths spread through social media.

They also have less resources to employ their own investigative teams.

There are, however, thousands of well-trained social scientists in the UK – inside and outside of academia – who have the skills and knowledge to unearth the real story. Many young researchers have much to contribute and could always do with a little extra cash. They also can – sometimes – respond quickly to requests. I have worked with several in this way myself.

So, we are thinking of creating a service that brings the demand for quick, efficient, investigative research from media organizations and journalists together with those social scientists who are willing to provide quick but quality access to or digests of the information the media needs. Or, in some cases, to carry out more in-depth investigations?

A sort of “Trust a Trader” or “Rated People” platform for social scientists and the media. We have a preliminary name and logo (above).

We envisage an on-line platform where requests can be made (with a fee offer) and social scientists respond if they can help.

We should stress this would not be investigative journalism – we’ll leave that to the media. This would be background research to help journalists write their stories.

We are interested in hearing from

Media folk if you think this sort of service would be useful and would you or your organizations pay for it?

Social scientists who might want to participate (we’re thinking especially here of early career researchers maybe?) – for payment, obviously.

We want to know if this is a bonkers idea, or something worth trying?

Comments welcome here or directly to me at colin.talbot@manchester.ac.uk 

REVIEW: The many ways in which Brexit can become Wrexit for Britain

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BREXIT – What The Hell Happens Now? Ian Dunt. Canbury Press. 2016 

On June 23rd 2016 British voters delivered a slim majority (52/48) in an advisory Referendum on whether the UK should remain or leave the EU.

What happened immediately afterwards was even more shocking than the actual result (which not even the ‘Leave’ camp had expected). British politics suddenly did a screeching 180 degree U-turn on decades of commitment by both Conservatives and Labour to the EU – “Brexit means Brexit”. The Referendum was transmuted to unchallengeable Holy Writ – the people had spoken.

The problem is, as Ian Dunt’s book admirably sets out, “the people” and that includes most of our politicians, had no real idea of what had just happened and what the consequences would be. Dunt’s book tries to educate us all, in eye-opening and eye-watering detail.

I should say at this point I rarely read non-fiction books from cover to cover. I don’t have the time – as an academic you quickly learn to skim, dip and dive into books to gut them for what’s essential. I read this, all of it.

There is way too much in the book to review fully so I’ll just highlight what were the key “take-aways” (as we now say) for me. Continue reading