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Research and higher education policy

The Society is continuing to monitor and respond to developments in policy that relate to geographical research and teaching in higher education, particularly in relation to funding, in consultation with the geographical community.

UK human geography number 1 in the world

The Society Director, Dr Rita Gardner, acted as the chair of the steering committee of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) international benchmarking review of human geography. The group, in consultation with the UK human geography community, appointed an international panel of leading international experts, chaired by Professor David Ley, University of British Columbia, Canada. The panel made an independent assessment of the UK’s performance in human geography research, made key conclusions from and identified a number of recommendations.

The final report, launched at the Society on 4 March 2013, states that UK human geography is world leading, ranking number one in the world. The key conclusions from the report are:

  • UK human geography ranks number one in the world
  • It is an empirically and conceptually innovative, diverse, vibrant discipline that in many areas sets the intellectual agenda
  • The UK publishes more than its share of major disciplinary journals; bibliometric indicators reveal international primacy both in volume and citation impact; and a large number of the seminal publications (books as well as articles) continue to have a UK origin
  • UK human geography is radically interdisciplinary and with the spatial turn in the humanities and social sciences has become an exporter of ideas and faculty to other disciplines
  • That there is confidence research in human geography had substantial impact on policy and practice and would successfully meet the challenges of the current impact agenda

Dr Rita Gardner CBE, Director of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), said: "It's such a key subject in helping to understand and address many of the environmental, economic and social challenges the world and the UK faces. At a time when impact is increasingly seen as important, the fact that the Panel highlighted the range, clear strategic intent and effectiveness of engagement between scholars and the users of research in human geography is also especially welcome. We look forward to working with the research councils and the HE community to take forward the five recommendations of the review."

Making the case for geography

Geographical work has significant impact: it generates economic benefit, influences government policy and delivery, and improves our overall quality of life. The Society has published a series of case studies, demonstrating geographical research having a significant impact on policy areas including flood defence, the census, road safety, and regeneration. Four of the case studies (9-12) focus on work which has had significant focus on informing public audiences.

Developments in higher education

Open Access (OA)

Details of the Society's work and position on Open Access publishing in relation to the geographical community can be found on the Research and Higher Education pages.

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) will assess the quality of research in UK higher education institutions (HEIs) in 2014.

A consultation on Open Access in the post-2014 Research Excellence Framework is now open (deadline 30 October 2013). Input to inform the Society's response is requested: please email c.souch@rgs.org to contribute.

On 14 July 2011 HEFCE published its "Assessment framework and guidance on submissions" which sets out the general framework for assessment in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) and provides guidance to UK higher education institutions about making submissions to the 2014 REF.

On 30 January 2012 the final criteria and working methods that the Research Excellence Framework (REF) panels will use when assessing research were published. This includes guidance on procedures, the data that will be required, and the criteria and definitions that will apply.

The deadline for submissions is 29 November 2013. The full timetable for the REF process can be found here.

HEFCE funding for teaching and research

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has announced the breakdown for funding of Higher Education in 2013-14 and further details were published on 21 March 2013 

You can read about the Society's thoughts on funding the teaching of geography in higher education in our input to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) (submitted February 2011)

The Society continues to make the case to the Higher Education Funding Council for England to help the teaching of geography at University. This is to recognise the requirements of its laboratory, fieldwork and computer-based teaching, key training integral to making geography graduates in demand by employers.

Higher Education White Paper

The Government (Department of Business and Innovation) White Paper on Higher Education (Students at the Heart of the System) (PDF) was published on 28 June 2011, alongside a consultation to which the Society responded.

The House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) committee have also undertaken an inquiry into Government reform of higher education to which the Society responded, focusing particularly on our role providing careers advice for students. The committee have published their report of conclusions (10 November 2011), in which they reference this work by the Society (line 175).

Other policy monitoring

Details of other policy announcements related to research and higher education made by government and parliament can be found on our Research and Higher Education policy monitoring page.

Page last updated 16.08.13

RGS-IBG links
Our work
· Policy
· Research and higher education (RHED)
· RHED policy monitoring
Documents
• ESRC Strategic Priorities - Adrian Alsop, ESRC Director of Research, March 2011 Presentation (PDF)
Links
• Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Delivery Plan 2011-15 (PDF)
• Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS): Higher Education White Paper (PDF)
• Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Delivery Plan 2011-15
• Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Impact Toolkit
• Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Delivery Plan 2011-15
• Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014

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