Tuesday, 24 May 2011

AHRC Follows ESRC to Manage Demand

Disturbing - but, let's be frank, unsurprising - news from the Faculty of Arts & Humanities on Death Star Avenue. They're planning to follow their sisters in the Faculty of Social & Economic Sciences and will introduce some form of demand management.

As I say, unsurprising. The clues have all been there. It was clear in their Delivery Plan that they wanted to 'mange demand' (Key Point 10, first bullet point). However, I had assumed that this would be the more touchy-feely end of demand management, and sometime in the future. Why? Because they talked (4.7.1) about the relatively low-level steps they'd taken already, such as rolling deadlines. Elsewhere (4.7.2), they said that they would 'systematically collect, analyse and disseminate to HEIs' success rates and trends, and, following this, will have stern, headmasterly 'strategic discussions with key HEIs...falling below the average, to develop self-management of demand and quality control of proposals.'

As far as I'm aware this hasn't happened yet. However, the word on the street is that they're rushing to follow the ESRC into a more Darth Vaderish understanding of management. As I'm sure you know, the ESRC is currently consulting on possible forms this will take, including quotas, sanctions, and paying to apply.

Whatever comes out of that process will probably end up as AHRC policy sooner rather than later. As the ESRC said in the Consultation Document: 'the Research Councils, where possible, will harmonise their demand management strategies.' I just didn't expect them to be so quick, as their pace is other areas can seem glacially slow. I mean, have you had an application reviewed recently?

Anyway, it's all the more reasons for us to crack on with the Internal Peer Review System which is close to its final draft form, and will hopefully be in place by the time Darth comes knocking.

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