Select Committee on Education and Employment Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


APPENDIX 30

Letter to the Committee Secretary from Members of HUDG (History at the Universities Defence Group) (HE 145)

  We write as members of HUDG, History at the Universities Defence Group, a professional association representing those teaching the subject across the whole spectrum of higher education. A small delegation met Mr Gordon Marsden MP for a working lunch on 11 December 2000, and during a very useful exchange of views, were encouraged by him to put our views to you. Through our regular surveys of departments and through the wide-ranging membership of our Steering Committee we are able to gather views and information about the pressing concerns of history departments and would like to offer comments on a series of issues.

1.  ACCESS

  Our particular concern is the decline of full time mature students which we relate to increased fees and maintenance costs. This is creating some cold spots in recruiting terms across the country.

2.  RAE

  Members of HUDG share a number of misgivings concerning the principles and impact of the Research Assessment Exercise, while acknowledging in our particular case the RAE panel has tried to operate the system as sensitively as possible over recent years.

3.  STAFF MORALE

  HUDG is constantly made aware of the accumulative impact of the decline in the unit of resource and the escalating range of demands in teaching, research and administration faced by its members. This produces a continual problem of staff morale. It is clear to us that those teaching the subject in Further Education Colleges find themselves in an almost impossible situation.

4.  QAA

  Whilst recognising the need for accountability HUDG remains concerned about the increasing bureaucratic burdens of quality assurance. This places further pressure on already limited resources and contributes to the decline in staff morale. HUDG members find it hard to accept that the suggested "lightness of touch" will be a reality.

5.  HISTORIANS IN THE COMMUNITY

  We are increasingly aware of the divergence between academic history and the increasing public interest in the subject. Our members recognise our commitment to the wider community but are constrained by the demands of quality assurance and the RAE in a climate of increasing financial pressures.

Dr George Bernard (University of Southampton)
Professor Eric Evans (University of Lancaster)
Professor Anthony Fletcher (University of Historical Research, London)
Dr Jane Longmore (University of Greenwich)

January 2001


 
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