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Educational policy analysis archives.
n Vol. 6, no. 8 (April 19, 1998).
Tempe, Ariz. :
b Arizona State University ;
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida.
c April 19, 1998
"The art of punishing" : the research assessment exercise and the ritualisation of power in higher education / Lee-Anne Broadhead [and] Sean Howard.
Arizona State University.
University of South Florida.
t Education Policy Analysis Archives (EPAA)
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mods:identifier issn 1068-2341mods:part
mods:detail volume mods:number 6issue 8series Year mods:caption 19981998Month April4Day 1919mods:originInfo mods:dateIssued iso8601 1998-04-19
1 of 14 Education Policy Analysis Archives Volume 6 Number 8April 19, 1998ISSN 1068-2341 A peer-reviewed scholarly electronic journal. Edit or: Gene V Glass Glass@ASU.EDU. College of Education Ari zona State University,Tempe AZ 85287-2411 Copyright 199 8, the EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES.Permission is hereby granted to copy any a rticle provided that EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES is credited and copies are not sold. "The Art of Punishing": The Research Assessment Exe rcise and the Ritualisation of Power in Higher Education Lee-Anne Broadhead University of Bradford (U.K.) Sean Howard Acronym Institute (U.K.)Abstract In this article it is argued that the recent Resear ch Assessment Exercise (RAE)--undertaken by the United Kingdom's Higher Ed ucation Funding Councils (HEFC)--is part of a much larger process of assessm ent in education generally. By taking the RAE as its focus, this article uses a Fo ucaultian analysis to amplify the nature and practice of disciplinary power in the setting o f Higher Education. Foucault's notion of an "integrated system" of control and production with its routine operation of surveillance and assessment--and its dependence on coercion and consent--is directly applied to the RAE. The impact on research and teac hing is discussed. The critical response of academics to the exercise has failed to challenge the process in any fundamental way. it is argued here that this failur e is a reflection of the degree to which disciplinary logic is embedded in the academic syst em.Introduction The demands made to "publish or perish" have long p layed a central role in the academic's career advancement and critiques of this phenomenon are not new. the articulation of a "Research Assessment Exercise" (R AE) within British Higher Education takes this demand to an extreme limit and uses the funding of university Departments as its ultimate weapon. Witnessing the operation of the Exercise has provided a salutary lesson in the effects of produc t driven research and raises a number of questions about the nature and purpose of academ ia. The largely unquestioned acceptance of the imposition of such a funding mech anism is a dangerous practice.
2 of 14Positive (if any) and negative effects should be co nsidered. Of greater import academics should reflect on the larger process of which the R AE is a part. This article provides a critical examination of the use of assessment practices in higher education as exemplified by the RAE. Drawing on Foucault's work on the nature and practice of disciplinary power, the bulk of our consideration will be of the RAE in its internal operation as a ritualisation of such p ower: a consideration, in Foucault's terms, of the "microphysics" of power. Naturally, this "micro" level cannot be properly understood without reference to the broader context of British education policy, itself located in a socio-economic setting increasingly ch aracterised by management-centred disciplinarian approaches. Foucault considers disciplinary power in the contex t of an "integrated system" of control and production; a system in which, due to t he intense, routine operation of surveillance and assessment, both coercion and cons ent feature prominently. This article investigates the current intensification of the ope ration of the integrated system in the surveillance and assessment of British academics.Foucault, Power and the Integrated Disciplinary Sys tem The writing of French philosopher Michel Foucault c onstitutes one of the most thorough investigations into the evolution and oper ation of disciplinary systems in the West and the mechanics of power at work within them Foucault's concern is with the ongoing legacy of "a historical transformation: the gradual extension of the mechanisms of discipline throughout the seventeenth and eighte enth centuries, their spread throughout the whole social body, the formation of what might be called in general the disciplinary society." (Foucault, 1977: 209) The fo llowing analysis of the RAE draws most heavily on his 1975 work Discipline and Punish : The Birth of the Prison. As Foucault makes clear, though his study is of prison s, it cannot be a study solely of them, so integrated are they with other forms and elabora tions of disciplinary power: "'Discipline' may be identified neither with an ins titution nor with an apparatus; it is a type of power, a modality for it s exercise, comprising a whole set of instruments, techniques, procedures, l evels of application, targets; it is 'physics' or an 'anatomy' of power, a technology. And it may be taken over either by 'specialized' institutions...o r by institutions that use it as an essential instrument for a particular end...or b y preexisting authorities that find in it a means of reinforcing or reorganiz ing their internal mechanisms of power..." (Foucault, 1977: 215) Foucault sees the system of disciplinary power as p roductive and integrated. He argues that such power cannot rely exclusively or p re-dominantly on punitive measures, essential though these are. For power to be self-su staining, it must produce and reproduce definitions of reality which the objects of this power come to see as normal. Thus, the moulding and integration of 'the individu al' is a central part of the production of power. "Discipline," Foucault argues, "'makes' i ndividuals; it is the specific technique of a power that regards individuals both as objects and as instruments of its exercise." (Foucault, 1977: 170) In the context of the prison, this "exercise" is de signed to be continuous and relentless. Surveillance is the key technique, both of observation and normalisation of behaviour: it integrates the individual within the prison system, "producing" the prisoner, whose ideal variant is highly co-operativ e and responsive to the authorities.
3 of 14This co-operation is essentially a combination of h abitualised, normalised fear of punishment and hope of reward. In the context of education--identified by Foucault as one of the key sites of the habitualising, normalising exercise of disciplinary power--the primary techniques remain the deployment of surveillance and the inducement o f co-operation, albeit in a less brutal and more nuanced manner. Whether in prison or educa tion, integrated power is realised through surveillance and extended and guaranteed th rough co-operation. And in both--and all such sites--"assessment" combines and produces both. The growing use of assessment/punishment in higher education Assessment has traditionally been a defining charac teristic of the academic professional: assessment of students, and--generall y to a lesser degree--of fellow professionals through peer review. A new, more exag gerated form of assessment has, however, become prevalent in recent years. The tren d toward the "publish or perish" mentality has brought with it a new, rigid, punitiv e and hierarchical approach to assessment. The Research Assessment Exercise is mer ely one, albeit extreme, example of this tendency.The Research Assessment Exercise (RAE): A Descripti ve Introduction The RAE was established by the Conservative governm ent in June 1992 to accommodate its "wish to see selectivity in the all ocation of research resources based on assessments of the quality of research" in higher e ducation (Note 2). (HEFCE, 1994, para 4.) The first RAE was concluded in March 1994, publishing its findings in the form of a "league table" later that year. Our focus is o n the second RAE, which refined the workings of the assessment structure and concluded its work on 31 March 1996, the results of which were made public in December 1996. The RAE accords a ranking to every "unit of assessm ent" (UOA--most usually an academic department--in the United Kingdom). This r anking can be expected to exert a decisive influence over research funding allocation s. "Units" are marked on a scale from 1 to 5 (with a new 5* category for star performers) A ranking of 3 is generally understood to be the minimum accepted standard nece ssary to warrant continued institutional support. However, "3" is now divided into 3A and 3B, with 3B likely to be judged the wrong side of the divide. Definitions ar e duly provided in the voluminous documentation accompanying the exercise--along with definitions for all of the many key words and terms employed. These definitions ser ve not only to clarify and guide, but limit and confine, participation and response. The RAE is a massive operation, dominating the oper ation and orientation of higher education. No activity can take place withou t reference to it. The activity required to set up the Exercise was itself intensive. In 199 4, 60 assessment panels were established to consider the submissions from 69 sub ject areas. Under direction from the funding councils, the Chairs--appointed by the fund ing bodies, on the advice of the 1992 RAE panel Chairs--were charged with assembling thei r teams, achieving a specified optimum degree of continuity in personnel (33%) wit h previous panels. Personnel selection was required to be based on detailed crit eria including the "research experience of nominees and their standing in the research comm unity" and "the need to secure representation from the research commissioning and user communities within commerce, industry, government and the public secto r." (HEFCE, 1995, para. 4a) Chairs' recommendations for personnel would then re quire approval by the Chief
4 of 14Executive of the relevant funding body. (Ibid., par a. 5a) In line with the increasingly utilitarian re-assess ment of research in higher education, and "in the light of the emphasis on dev eloping the partnership between higher education and the users of research," some 1 ,000 invitations were issued, by the Chief Executive of the Higher Education Funding Cou ncil of England (HEFCE) on behalf of the four British funding bodies, to indus trial and business and professional organisations for nominations for membership to the panel. (HEFCE, 1994, para. 18) Each panel was provided by the funding council with a Secretary. The Secretaries were responsible for ensuring that the elaborate procedu res and regulations of the Exercise were carried out. One important regulation was that panels were "instructed to channel requests for clarification of data through the fund ing bodies and not to contact institutions directly." Similarly, any feedback the y wished to give UOAs at the end of the process would also be channelled through the fu nding bodies. (HEFCE, 1995a, para 29) Panels were charged with drawing up the assessment criteria for their own areas, taking into account "previous statements on the fra mework of the Exercise; advice from the funding bodies on policy and administrative con siderations, and representations made by subject associations and other interested p arties." (HEFCE, 1995b, para 4) Despite the appearance of a degree of freedom in es tablishing the criteria, it is important to recognize that a definition of "research" is pro vided by the funding councils which can not be challenged. The task of the panels is th us essentially to interpret this mandatory definition--"fine-tune" it to the specifi c requirement of the subject under review. The common definition of Research reads: "'Research' for the purpose of the RAE is to be und erstood as original investigation undertaken in order to gain knowledge and understanding. It includes work of direct relevance to the needs of c ommerce and industry, as well as to the public and voluntary sectors; schola rship*; the invention and generation of ideas, images, performances and artef acts including design, where these lead to new or substantially improved i nsights; and the use of existing knowledge in experimental development to p roduce new or substantially improved materials, devices, products and processes, including design and construction. It excludes routine testin g and analysis of materials, components and processes, e.g. for the m aintenance of national standards, as distinct from the development of new analytical techniques.* Scholarship embraces a spectrum of activities inc luding the development of teaching methods; the latter is excluded from the R AE." (HEFCE, 1995a, annex a) The definition vaunts, above all else, the wider, s pecific benefits of the results of applied research to society and the economy. This s eemingly indisputable and worthy objective can act to constrain criticism of social and economic values and norms. It valorises research as a means of production: resear ch as production-line. It also implicitly suggests that the quality of such resear ch is likely to benefit from intense processes of assessment and judgement. One reason why scholarship such as development of t eaching materials is excluded from consideration may be that it does not lead, concretely enough or quickly enough, to "ascertainable" benefits, commercial or otherwise. Teaching is doubtless not seen as in opposition or contradiction to such util itarianism: its utilitarianism is merely of a longer-term kind, beyond the horizon avidly sc anned by the RAE. That is, teaching,
5 of 14like research, is still a production-line, but one producing--moulding and integrating--workers (researchers) rather than prod ucts.(Note 3) The decision to exclude such scholarship understand ably proved controversial within the profession--"caused some difficulty," in RAE-speak. (HEFCE, 1995, annex a, para 19) Many academics see teaching-preparation as a legitimate contribution to, and an integral component of, their research activity. For the RAE, this legitimacy is conferred only when it "can be shown to embody research outco mes within the RAE definition." Such "embodiment"-the production of appropriate, i.e. published, assessable output--precludes consideration of what has hithert o generally been regarded, and valued, as creative, original research. This resear ch--a great body of work and output--is now "disembodied," relegated somehow to the status of "phantom" research; an incomplete production of thought. This view is simp ly dismissed--for reasons not explained--in the RAE: "the broader argument that t he preparation of teaching material, as a form of scholarship, must generally be accepte d as a research activity within the RAE is not accepted." (Ibid.) Such a blunt refusal starkly illustrates the arbitrary power of the Exercise. The nature, functions and effects of this power are those of an integrated disciplinary system. Understanding the workings of such a system can therefore illuminate the deeper implications of a process suc h as the RAE.The Research Assessment Exercise: Operation and Eff ects As mentioned, assessment of academic performance an d "quality" in higher education has traditionally consisted of peer-revie w exercises operating within a hierarchical framework. While both features are ret ained within the RAE, hierarchical aspects take precedence, controlling and constraini ng the peer-review dimension. Likewise, the RAE is constrained by its location wi thin broader hierarchical relationships. At the top of the hierarchy is the g overnment, making pronouncements and establishing the mandate under which the fundin g councils must operate. The funding bodies dictate to the RAE panels they have approved. Once the rules of the process are established, the UOAs are obliged to re ach the targets set for them by the panels. Ultimately, pressure is exerted on the indi vidual academic, whose "output" and performance becomes bound to, and binds, all the li nks in this long chain of command. As a consequence, the existing hierarchical nature of the UOAs themselves becomes exaggerated. Maintaining and monitoring such an elaborate hierar chy requires considerable levels of both surveillance and consent. Cooperatio n is vital at each level, as is "assessment," i.e. surveillance, of its effectivene ss. A dynamic is established which serves to integrate and service the system. A "netw ork" of power-relations between and within each level is produced, and continually repr oduced, on the basis of the integration of those apparent polarities, surveillance and coop eration: "for although," as Foucault says, "surveillance rests on individuals, its funct ioning is that of a network of regulations from top to bottom, but also to a certain extent fr om bottom to top and laterally; this network "holds" the whole together and traverses it in its entirety with effects of power that derive from one another: supervisors perpetual ly supervised." (Foucault, 1977: 176-7)The Integrated System and Surveillance Foucault identifies and discusses "five distinct op erations" at work within the integrated regime of disciplinary power. (Ibid., 18 2-3) How are they at work within the
6 of 14RAE? The first operation "refers individual actions to a whole that is at once a field of comparison, a space of differentiation, and the pri nciple of a rule to be followed." In the RAE, all individual research action is referred to its value as determined by the Assessors. This determination is made on the basis of standards of comparison and differentiation ostensibly set out for all to see, but actually open to a few--the Panels--to interpret. In the Exercise, while individual perfor mance is assessed, it is the UOA concerned that is judged. For the RAE, the UOA is t he "individual": UOAs are compared to each other as if they were Supra-Resear chers. For the individual, the UOA is one of two "wholes," the other being The Exercis e. Additionally, researchers within UOAs are compared to each other, and in many cases penalised or rewarded for success or failure in meeting goals set within the hierarch ical structure of both the RAE and UOA. As mentioned, latitude of interpretation--freedom o f manoeuvre--for the assessors is built into the process. This latitude serves to constrain the freedom of manoeuvre for the assessed, the researcher, who is compelled to r efer her or his output to injunctions which are both imperious and imprecise--indeed, who se imperiousness is enhanced and characterised by its very imprecision. This characteristic is justified, indeed vaunted, i n The Exercise thus: "The assessment process is not a mechanistic one." This claim gives Panels the right to remain vague in their pronouncements of what specifically is taken into consideration in arriving at a judgement. The individual researcher is told, for example, that publishing in "prestigious journals" or chairing "key conferences will enhance their UOA's standing, though no definitive list is provided. Naturally, w ere such a list to be provided, it would be controversial and rightly condemned for its dict atorial audacity. The point being made is that this vagueness is not the consequence of wi shing to accommodate others, but an essential mechanism in the accommodation and consol idation of the ultimately arbitrary power and remit of the assessors to assess. The second operation is the differentiation of "ind ividuals from one another, in terms of the following overall rule: that the rule be made to function as a minimum threshold, as an average to be respected, or as an optimum towards which one must move." In the Exercise, this function is exemplifie d by the designated number of publications sought. Following on from the results of the 1992 RAE ranking, the UOAs began to set targets for its individual researchers to aim for four publications in the four years between the Exercises. "Getting your four" be came the mantra to "guide" the British academic. Here again a deliberately vague s et of criteria left both the individual and the UOA struggling with a variety of unknowns: such things as the value (defined by the assessors) of different kinds of publications ( books, chapters in books, articles in journals, etc), and the source of publication. Even the "four" is a variable. In an effort to avoid the appearance of a strictly quantitative app roach, the funding councils have specified that the assessment panels should take in to consideration "particular professional circumstances likely to lead to a redu ced publication rate." (HEFCE, 1995b, para 12) In such cases, it is incumbent on the UOA to provide evidence of long term research projects or mitigating circumstances; extr eme care must be taken if utilizing this clause lest the assessment panel fails to rega rd the reduced "output" as justifiable. The third operation is one which "measures in quant itative terms and hierarchizes in terms of value the abilities, the level, the 'na ture' of individuals." Here again we see the UOA doing to the individual what the RAE does t o it. In accepting the "logic" put forward by The Exercise that certain forms of resea rch "output" are superior to others, the UOA demands of its individual researchers that effort be made to attain certain
7 of 14standards. A single-authored book--quality is not a n important consideration, or rather is assumed to be present in any such work--is given pr ecedence and scores most heavily; more heavily, say, than a single-authored paper, wh ich, if certain conditions are met, counts for more than a chapter in a book, and so on The hierarchy of "good researchers" is thus established within the UOA, with--paradoxic ally--less value accorded to individual, thoughtful, long-term research. Changing thus the "nature" of research changes also the "nature" of researchers. This is a prime example of what Foucault describes in the context of overtly penal institutions as assessment being far more concerned with the creation, through a system of rewards and punishments, of a certain type of in dividual than with the reform or improvement of individuals. In this case, the Briti sh government hopes to manufacture a "new breed" of researcher, more concerned both with their own hierarchical positioning and with the market-value of their research; market -value in terms of utility for "users," in business and elsewhere, and in terms of the cont ribution to the UOA's ranking, and thus its positioning within the UOA hierarchy. And this is so important because of its relation to funding and--as may well be seen increa singly in the near future--survival. This leads on to Foucault's fourth and fifth operat ions, which we consider together. The fourth operation "introduces...the constraint o f a conformity that must be achieved"; the fifth "traces the limit that will de fine difference in relation to all other differences, the external frontier of the abnormal. These two operations form the crux of the penal mechanism of the RAE. Put starkly but accurately, for the UOA non-participation can mean extinction. Equally, par ticipation demands conformity to an array of specifications and definitions, all of whi ch demarcate the normal from the abnormal, success from failure. Most importantly, t he 3 ranking is widely regarded as marking the "external frontier," on one side of whi ch lies "safety" in the sense of the continuation of probable adequate funding (at least until the next assessment). The emphasis in these operations on conformity--nor mality--points to an apparently contradictory aspect of the disciplinary system much referred-to by Foucault: namely, that its concentration on the "difference" between individuals--their examination, assessment and consequent categorisati on--is actually an insistence on a sameness, a uniformity and conformity. In the penal setting, for example, what matters is not that there are different types of individuals i n prison, but that all individuals become--are reduced to being--different types of pr isoner. However, in all disciplinary systems--and for both the individual researcher and the UOA--the following applies: "The perpetual penalty that traverses all points an d supervises every instant in the disciplinary institution compares, differentiates, hierarchizes, homogenizes, excludes. In short, it normalizes." (Foucault, 1977: 183)The Integrated System and Cooperation For the integrated system to succeed, Foucault argu es, cooperation is a necessary accompaniment to surveillance. It is also a consequ ence of it: the individual cooperates in part because s/he knows s/he is under surveillan ce. Thus, "good," cooperative behaviour has every likelihood of being rewarded; bad," uncooperative behaviour, of being penalised. Cooperation also entails selfsur veillance--one checks to ensure one is adequately mapping an entire research performance a nd planning to the requirements of those who will assess it--and the surveillance of f ellow professionals: after all, a "noncooperator," or under-performer, is capable of infl icting potentially calamitous damage on her/his colleagues. Further, cooperation acts to endorse and legitimise the process of assessment and
8 of 14surveillance, and thereby the disciplinary system, as an integrated whole. This acts to fragment units which were previously cohesive. A dr amatic example of this is the emergence of a "transfer market," as Departments (a t least those who can, or make sacrifices to be able to) buy-up "star" players to strengthen their team and thus bolster their chances of "promotion" to a higher "league," in this case ranking. As in sport, such promotion brings with it increased money with which further valuable acquisitions can be made. As the journal Managing HE recently observ ed: "There has been no formal quantification yet of the transfer market, but analogies with football were reinforced by one cont ributor to a File on Four [BBC Radio] programme, who had pursued phone-calls at midnight and meetings in motorway service stations. ...one unive rsity 'losing' a professor has sent the new employer a bill for £0.5 million f or intellectual property transfer in relation to a vital database developed for research." (Note 4) (Managing HE, 1996: 4) University solidarities are put under further press ure as "high-ranking" Departments (who may have bought their rank in the above manner) look askance at those beneath them, fearful that they will be taint ed by association and/or that they will be asked to subsidise them. Within Departments, col legial solidarities are undermined as researchers who may not meet targets set by the UOA are classified as "weak-links"; at which point, penalties against them may be exacted. Examples might be the imposition of heavier teaching and administrative loads, and t he loss of research allowances, both financial and temporal (i.e. sabbaticals). Thus, fe atures of the job once regarded as standard and unexceptional have been drawn into and deployed as part of an all-encompassing system of rewards and punishments designed to maximise "cooperation" with The Exercise. The examples given above, and others like them, are ways in which both UOAs and researchers participate in and cooperate with t he RAE not reluctantly but imaginatively, aggressively and competitively; such methods are overtly mandated, required or encouraged by The Assessors. This pheno menon begs questions about the "nature" of the profession itself and its ability t o resist such an apparently clear threat to it. It is perhaps easiest to understand the profession' s complicity in its own surveillance and oppression by utilising the Gramsc ian notion of "spontaneous consent," a concept akin to the cooperative dimension of the integrated disciplinary system. In the case of The Exercise, consent is spontaneous--comes "naturally"--to the academic as a consequence of many years of systematic moulding of the professional personality. This moulding begins before entry into the profession, t hrough the long years of being examined, assessed and rewarded as a student. Furth er examinations await, but the key test now is the professional's ability to examine, assess and either reward or punish. This ability is not only exercised on students but on co lleagues in the culture of peer-review. The positive internalisation of this way of proceed ing and being leads to the unquestioned--"spontaneous"--acceptance of discipli nary power, the ritualisation of which is the examination; a glorification of which is the RAE. Foucault sums up the nature and effects of this ritualisation thus: "The examination combines the techniques of an obse rving hierarchy and those of a normalizing judgment. It is a normalizin g gaze, a surveillance that makes it possible to qualify, to classify, and to punish. It establishes
9 of 14over individuals a visibility through which one dif ferentiates them and judges them. That is why, in all the mechanisms of discipline, the examination is highly ritualised. In it are combine d the ceremony of power and the form of experiment, the deployment of force and the establishment of truth. At the heart of the procedures of discipl ine, it manifests the subjection of those who are perceived as objects an d the objectification of those who are subjected." (Foucault, 1977: 184-5) The RAE is a drastic imposition of such processes o n a profession which itself practices them continuously and unquestioningly. Th is is not to say, however, that it is not changing that profession in important and distu rbing ways. On the nature of research, on the value of teaching, and on the expe rience of students, the impact is proving profound.Conclusions: The Impact of the RAE on Higher Educat ion We have argued that the RAE is an example of an exe rcise in disciplinary power as that term was understood by Foucault. The effect of the RAE on the academic profession can be seen on many levels, ranging from dayto-day stress and workload to the likely long-term nature and value of research a nd teaching. The RAE was intended to have a dramatic effect: it has had.Impact on Research The RAE represents a new phase in the "commodificat ion" of academic research. Academics have long been expected to view publicati ons as "assets," or what Ronald Barnett refers to as "academic currency" to trade i n the pursuit of advancement. (Barnett, 1992) The RAE has linked commodification directly t o the overall goal of making the intellectual community "competitive," with Departme nts adding up their members' currency in order to compete for declining governme nt funding. The government's intention is to create a leaner, fitter, research sector," providing in the words of the then Education Secretary "a national resource of knowled ge and expertise for the benefit of our international competitiveness..." (Department f or Education and Employment, 1996). While the RAE claims not to be concerned with the n umber of publications, its imperative has encouraged researchers to publish mo re often in order to meet the pressure within their UOA to be "research active." On the face of it, the emphasis in the RAE on research productivity, and researchers as pr oducers, is having the desired effect: more academics appear to be publishing with greater frequency. Producing more articles, however, is not the same as doing more research. Th e regurgitation and multiple-placing of articles is on the increase. This process, altho ugh intellectually untaxing, is timeconsuming, reducing time and energy available for b oth fresh research and course review. Moreover, as more is being published, recen t studies suggest that less is being read. (Daly, 1994) The pressure on the UOAs is, as we have shown, subs equently placed on the individuals within. Indeed, in many cases, a system is instituted within the UOA which closely mirrors that of the RAE. Because so much is as stake, the individual academic must conform to dictates and her or his own researc h plans fall victim to larger forces. This necessarily begs larger questions about academ ic freedom. Individual researchers are coming under increasing pressure not to underta ke complex and/or radical work
10 of 14which may not be able to be compressed into the Exe rcise's four-year cycle. Furthermore, pressure is exerted to produce work in specified forms and places, regardless of their appropriateness in the perhaps grander scheme of the individual's research project or career. Researchers who resist may hinder their own position within the UOA, potentially also jeopardising the UOA's ra nking. Not only may this set of pressures act to undermine the position, confidence and jobsatisfaction of researchers, it may act to prevent researchers with ambitious, l ong-term research programmes from either moving to other Departments, or even being h ired in the first instance. It is more important than ever to be, and to be seen to be, a "safe bet." Impact on Teaching and Learning The RAE has had a negative impact on teaching in a number of ways, both ideological and practical. Ideologically, the previ ously cited definition of "research" used in the Exercise has both exacerbated the false spli t between teaching and research and tended to stress the superior relevance--in terms o f the quality of intellectual endeavour, the practical benefit to the economic wellbeing o f the country, etc.--of the latter. Practically, there has simply been less time for ac ademics, scrambling for their "4," to devote to teaching. In terms of both logistical and ideological emphasi s, the Exercise has acted to devalue previously rewarding and esteemed aspects o f the academic profession. Perhaps the most tangible example is the devaluation of cou rseand lecture-preparation, which, if done properly, involves extensive, high-quality research. It is, however, difficult to gauge the extent of the subsequent decline in cours e standards. Moreover, a crucial aspect of such preparation is interactive research; that is, reflecting on and incorporating the responses and attitudes of students. In other w ords, the Exercise not only reduces the learning experience of the student but the learning experience of the academic. There are a whole range of ways in which the Exerci se has tended to devalue both the academic's role as teacher and learner, and the student's intellectual, and ultimately personal, respectability and dignity. One major con sequence is the diminished amount of time made available for out-of-class intellectual e ngagement with students--again, a loss to each party; a precluded interactivity. More dire ctly, perhaps, time for meetings with students on strictly course-related work--discussio n of draft essays, supervision meetings, etc.--is also reduced or made more pressu rised. In broader terms, when courses are modified and adapted, academics will be highly unlikely to accept improvements from the students point of view that c ould reduce the amount of precious research-time they need to set aside to complete th e research programme--their own, increasingly timeconsuming course work. Other equ ally negative developments could be cited, but our purpose here is not to list them but, rather, consider the response to them by the academic profession.Resisting the RAE Resistance to the RAE is inevitable: it has been an abrupt and draconian intrusion into the profession, increasing the job-insecurity, and diminishing the job-satisfaction, of many academics. Despite its professed dedication to improving research quality, the Exercise is clearly a politically motivated prelude to closures and redundancies--an exercise in justifying, ultimately in the name of B ritish economic competitiveness, a further fierce attack on the higher education secto r. However, the resistance of
11 of 14academics has not translated into any noticeable de gree of effective action. No doubt this in part because of the very fear the Exercise has g enerated. There may be a deeper explanation, however, suggested by our use of Fouca ult's concept of the integrated disciplinary system. A Foucaultian analysis, such as that proffered abov e, suggests that higher education--indeed, education generally--is a Resear ch Assessment Exercise: a competitive system run by--and, at least traditiona lly, operating to the powerful benefit of--disciplinarian technicians of reward and punish ment. In such a system, it is precisely the combination of complicity and coercion which is integrative, irresistible, seemingly inevitable. For the academic the RAE is the equival ent of the examination, combining the negative and positive elements of the integrate d system; the examination is a concentrated, spectacular exercise of surveillance, observation and normalisation. In this sense, the RAE is distorting the academic professio n by taking its own logic and turning it against it. A truly radical critique requires the contemplation of the desirability and necessity of a new, non-disciplinary logic. Such critiques ha ve been offered in the past and, significantly, they have been articulated as part o f a wider critique of society. (Freire, 1972; Dale, 1976; Illich, 1971; Gramsci, 1971). As a starting point, we might return to these earlier debates to renew our aquaintance with the ways in which education functions as part of the larger structures--politic al, economic and social--of discipline within society. It is only then that we will be abl e to make connections between our own actions as academics in disciplinary structures and the disciplinary structures to which we are subjected.NotesThe authors' names have been placed alphabetically; the order does not denote an unequal contribution to the research and writing of this paper. The authors would like to thank Gavin Beckett and Jeannie Grussendorf for their helpful comments on an earlier draft of this paper. 1. UOAs are now coming under pressure to elaborate Fiv e Year Research Plans, integrating each individual's research programme in to a single, "coherent" programme, thus increasing the compression on resea rchers from above. 2. As argued above, this power is itself exercised wit hin the context of an integrated, hierarchical, disciplinary system. The assessment c riteria established by each Panel is expected to faithfully reflect what are in effect injunctions from above (the funding bodies). 3. The introduction of a Teaching Assessment Exercise is said to offer a corrective for this tendency, but early indications suggest th at this Exercise will not consider the needs of students any more than the RAE conside rs the full value of research. 4.ReferencesBarnett, Ronald. (1996). Linking Teaching and Resea rch: A Critical Inquiry. Journal of Higher Education, 63 (6). Dale, Roger et al. (1976). Schooling and Capitalism: A Sociological Reader. London, Routledge and Kegan Paul.Daly, William T. (1994). Teaching and Scholarship: Adapting American Higher
12 of 14 Education to Hard Times. Journal of Higher Education, 65 (1). Department of Education and Employment (1996). "She phard announces committee of inquiry into higher education," Press Release 56/96 19 February 1996. Foucault, Michel (1977). Discipline and Punish. London. Penguin. Freire, Paulo, (1972). The Pedagogy of the Oppressed. London, Penguin. Gramsci, Antonio, (1971). Selections from the Prison Notebooks. [Edited and translated by Quentin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith] London, Lawrence and Wishart. Higher Education Funding Councils (1994). 1996 Rese arch Assessment Exercise. RAE96 1/94,Higher Education Funding Councils(1995) "Membership of Assessment Panels." RAE 96 1/95.Higher Education Funding Councils(1995a) "Guidance on Submissions." RAE 96 2/95. Higher Education Funding Councils(1995b) "Criteria for Assessment." RAE 96 3/95. Illich, Ivan, (1971). Deschooling Society. London, Marion Boyars Managing HE for decision-makers in Higher Educati on (1996), "These are indeed tense times," Spring.Richards, Huw (1996). "Transfer market Block." Times Higher Education Supplement 27 December, p. 1.About the AuthorsLee-Anne Broadhead Lee-Anne Broadhead is Lecturer at the Department of Peace Studies, University of Bradford in the U.K. L.A.Broadhead@Bradford.ac.uk Sean Howard Sean Howard is editor of Disarmament Diplomacy and is on the staff of the Acronym Institute, an institute based in London wor king on disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation issues. firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright 1998 by the Education Policy Analysis Archives
13 of 14The World Wide Web address for the Education Policy Analysis Archives is http://olam.ed.asu.edu/epaa General questions about appropriateness of topics o r particular articles may be addressed to the Editor, Gene V Glass, email@example.com or reach him at College of Education, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-2411. (602-965-26 92). The Book Review Editor is Walter E. Shepherd: firstname.lastname@example.org The Commentary Editor is Casey D. Cobb: email@example.com .EPAA Editorial Board Michael W. Apple University of Wisconsin Greg Camilli Rutgers University John Covaleskie Northern Michigan University Andrew Coulson firstname.lastname@example.org Alan Davis University of Colorado, Denver Sherman Dorn University of South Florida Mark E. Fetler California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Richard Garlikov email@example.com Thomas F. Green Syracuse University Alison I. Griffith York University Arlen Gullickson Western Michigan University Ernest R. House University of Colorado Aimee Howley Marshall University Craig B. Howley Appalachia Educational Laboratory William Hunter University of Calgary Richard M. Jaeger University of North Carolina--Greensboro Daniel Kalls Ume University Benjamin Levin University of Manitoba Thomas Mauhs-Pugh Rocky Mountain College Dewayne Matthews Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education William McInerney Purdue University Mary P. McKeown Arizona Board of Regents Les McLean University of Toronto Susan Bobbitt Nolen University of Washington Anne L. Pemberton firstname.lastname@example.org Hugh G. Petrie SUNY Buffalo Richard C. Richardson Arizona State University Anthony G. Rud Jr. Purdue University Dennis Sayers University of California at Davis Jay D. Scribner University of Texas at Austin Michael Scriven email@example.com Robert E. Stake University of Illinois--UC
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