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REF Code of Practice – need for vigilance on ‘no detriment’ statement

UCU has been in talks with senior university managers about the recently published REF code of practice.    The talks ended without agreement.   UCU members are advised to keep a close eye on how the COP is applied by Heads of Department and others … Our survey earlier this year showed that many staff have concerns about the effects on workloads of not being included in REF submissions. In response, local negotiators pressed that the ‘no detriment’ statement in the COP reflect this concern.  This was unanimously supported at a local branch meeting in June.   However the final version of the COP which was submitted to HEFCE contained a paragraph headed ‘no detriment statement’ which contains the following words:

“The exercise of the University’s discretion to include or not to include an eligible researcher in the REF submission will not in itself be used as a factor by the University for other purposes relating to the researcher’s employment.”

UCU questioned the inclusion of the words ‘in itself’ in this statement. We have pursued this at the local JACNC meeting between UCU and university managers, and the Vice Chancellor repeated the message she had given to us in previous meetings. The minutes of the meeting record that “the UCU President stated that a ‘no detriment’ agreement that non-submission will not impact on workload allocation is the most important thing. The VC stated that there is no intention that submission or otherwise would result in detriment and that this is a clear statement that she would not back down on.”

As the words ‘in itself’ have not been removed from the REF COP ‘no detriment’ statement the COP has not been agreed by UCU.

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