Thursday 21 July 2011

Statement on Impact: Why?

HEFCE, RCUK and UUK have issued a joint statement on the joys of impact. Like Cameron's take on the UK/US relationship, things have moved from being 'special' to being 'essential.'
The statement is all a bit, well, yadda, yadda, yadda: 'committed to working together', 'embedding througout', 'engage with business', 'beneficial outcomes', 'continue to work together', 'work coherently together' etc etc

But why did the three august institutions feel the need at this time to issue a generic statement that says almost nothing? It might have something to do with the REF: the Guidance on Submissions was published on the 14th July, and it's clear (if you were at all uncertain) how important impact is going to be this time around. Still, that doesn't really explain the reason for such a statement.

To me, it has the feel of whistling in the dark, to ward off the unbelievers and dissenters, of repeating something over and over, sotto voce, to reassure yourself that what you know is right, right? and what you believe will prevail. But something like this often has an opposite effect: it makes you think, 'why are they telling me this? Do they know something I don't?'

So beyond whistling in the dark, what's the point? I'd love to know. If you work for HEFCE, RCUK or UUK do drop me a line explaining the background to the statement. Alternatively, if you don't work for any of these three wise monkeys, just guess. The more conspiratorial the better. They'll be a prize for the best of a superb non-flashing pen, crafted from pure transparent plastic with colour coded lid and end stopper detailing.

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