Time has finally come when we will learn the results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF). There is little doubt that the outcome of this exercise will have a disruptive impact on the Higher Education sector as a whole. Against a backdrop of an increasingly aggressive shift towards marketisation of the University sector (tuition fee increase, ‘impact’ and employability agendas, to name a few), the REF is likely to further exaggerate the funding gap between Universities and subject areas – and in this setting, MeCCSA subject areas are perhaps particularly vulnerable.
The MeCCSA Executive has for some time been concerned about this and has commissioned research into how recent changes in the sector are affecting our members. In this issue of Three-D, Giannina Warren & Natalie Fenton provide an insightful overview of the interim findings of this report. Despite some encouraging suggestions that student recruitment into various subject areas covered by MeCCSA is increasing, the report also paints a grim picture about the increasing pressures our members are under – indeed, they found ‘many of the departments in these fields expressed anxiety rather than confidence about the future’. Continual budget cuts means doing more with less is becoming commonplace.
Also in this issue of Three-D, Lis Howell, Karen Ross and Suzanne Franks report on the Inquiry into Women, News and Current Affairs launched by the House of Lords Communications Sub-Committee. In addition to the usual MeCCSA network reports, we also have a final update from the 2015 Annual MeCCSA Conference organisers at Northumbria University – look forward to seeing you there in January!
The next edition of Three-D will be a special issue on the 2015 UK General Election. If you would like to write for or advertise in the next edition of Three-D, please get in touch with me on firstname.lastname@example.org by the end of February 2015. Suggestions for our website are also welcome.