Three-D Issue 27: Chair’s report

From the Brexit vote to Trump’s election the extraordinary times we are living through are often shocking and deeply troubling but do at least make for good teaching material as the focus on the media grows ever more intense. Are we post-truth or just past caring? Whatever your politics or philosophical standpoint an education in media communication and cultural studies would seem more relevant than ever before! Yet the educational reforms brought into schools by Michael Gove with a strong steer towards the more traditional academic areas (the so-called ‘facilitating subjects’) bring increased uncertainty to the subject areas MeCCSA represents. With Brexit on the horizon and the Teaching Excellence Framework around the corner student numbers are an increasing obsession at many institutions. Ever conscious of the need to show potential students more about the great degree programmes we offer, MeCCSA commissioned a short video that is now available for use. Please show it wherever you can and distribute it far and wide!

With the Higher Education Bill speeding through Parliament with little opposition and the NUS standing firm on their intent to boycott the NSS in the Spring if the government goes ahead with a fees increase, it looks like we are in for an eventful 2017. If that isn’t enough to have you reaching for the Christmas sherry, then the preparations for REF 2021 may well be. Exactly how the Stern recommendations (that seek to end gaming of the system through assessing all staff on research and teaching contracts and stress quality output over quantity) can be put into practice, is now the subject of a consultation. MeCCSA will of course be making a submission. Make sure you do too. We expect the final REF2021 system to be announced sometime in the summer of 2017. I bet you can’t wait!

We’ve also been busy representing our subject areas through revisions to the QAA subject benchmark statement and talking to the ESRC and AHRC about research funding. After doing research into the number of funded projects in our field we went to visit RCUK to argue for MeCCSA subjects to be better classified and the funding remit between the research councils to be more clearly defined. We are continuing to work with RCUK to look more closely at what they fund and try to ensure that MeCCSA subjects get a fair deal. And of course, let’s not forget the government consultation over the full implementation of the Leveson framework on independent and effective regulation of the press that is the subject of much of this newsletter. The deadline for this consultation is 10 January so you can just about get your response in before dashing up to Leeds for the annual conference. If you are joining us for the conference, please make sure you come to the AGM. We have two very important visitors joining us to talk about the desperate struggles over academic freedom in Turkey. And that reminds me – it’s that time of year again – love and peace to all.

Posted by Einar Thorsen