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Consensus and conflict: what do responses to Stern tell us about the future of the REF?

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Check out this article from Wonkhe, Higher Education: Policy, People and Politics, written by James Wilsdon:

For the higher education sector, the past six months have seen policy proposals emerge so thick and fast that a degree of consultation fatigue is setting in. The most recent process, which closed in late March, was for Lord Stern’s review of the Research Excellence Framework (REF). And with a white paper lying just around the corner, the machinery of consultation will soon be cranking up again.

As a service to the Wonkhe community (and to reassure the response-drafters among you that you have at least a few devoted readers), I’ve spent the past couple of weeks digesting all the submissions to the Stern Review I could lay my hands on. I’ve read thirty-six in total – most of them publicly available, and a few private – from a mix of HEIs, mission groups, learned societies and lobby groups.

Taken together, what do these responses tell us about the likely direction of the Stern Review? And what hints do they offer about the design of the next REF? Nothing is certain, of course, as Lord Stern and his panel could head off in their own direction. But based on the responses I’ve read, let me highlight four points on which there is widespread agreement, and four where positions diverge. I’ve anonymised quotes from those responses which haven’t been made public.

To continue reading, please visit Wonkhe.

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