Tag Archive: event report

WCC UK REF Consultation Event – summary of key points


We are very grateful to WCC UK member Christine Plastow of the Open University for writing up her notes of important take-away points and for sharing her response from our recent REF 2021 consultation event.

On Tuesday 18th September, the WCC UK met at the Open University campus in Milton Keynes to consult on the draft guidelines for submission for REF 2021. We were also able to livestream the event, and so were joined by colleagues around the country listening in and contributing. The event was led by Maria Wyke, the sub-panel chair for Classics, and Katherine Harloe, member of the Classics sub-panel and an interdisciplinary advisor for REF 2021.

Professor Wyke opened the discussion, stating that the event was an opportunity for the sub-panel to present the material produced by REF, and that REF were interested in gathering information about whether disciplinary interests have been addressed successfully in the draft guidelines. What follows here highlights the main points of discussion throughout the event.

Codes of practice

It was noted that institutions have been tasked with producing codes of practice prior to REF 2021 for the selection of staff and outputs for submission. The staff selected should be all of those with significant responsibility for research. Concern was expressed for the institution’s individual freedom in making these decisions. The sub-panel members asserted that codes of practice would be assessed by REF, in part against HESA definitions of staff roles. Codes of practice can be sent back for revision if deemed inadequate, and submissions could be damaged by institutions failing to provide a correct submission. However, if institutions do not adhere to their codes of practice once approved, this will need to be appealed by individuals within the institution, as the sub-panel will not be able to spot failure to adhere to the code of practice from the submissions. All codes of practice must include an appeals procedure.


Institutions will be expected to provide commentary on any adjustments to the submission due to special circumstances. However, decoupling of staff from submissions means that outputs are a group effort, and it may not be necessary to apply reductions to specific individuals. Two kinds of reductions are specified: defined reductions, such as maternity leave, where the reduction will be by a pre-set number of outputs; and reductions requiring judgement, generally more complicated circumstances, which will require assessment as to the reduction in number of outputs. The reduction in number of submissions for maternity leave since the last REF, from 1 output to 0.5 outputs, is due to the reduction in average number of outputs per staff member (from 4 to 2.5 outputs) and the longer assessment period of this REF (7 years, as opposed to 5 years for REF 2014).


A query was raised about the use of the word ‘eligible’ in section 180 of the draft guidelines. Attendees were concerned that this would permit universities to exclude staff with 2* research outputs. The sub-panel noted that universities would have to provide reasoning for any staff who were excluded, and that this would not be considered a valid reason. They also noted that the guidelines ought to encourage institutions to support all staff to produce excellent research, and that REF encourages this, although this may not be the effect in reality. Continue reading →

Event report: Bullying and Harassment in UK Classics Departments: Finding Solutions


The workshop Bullying and Harassment in the UK Classical Workplace: Finding Solutions took place on 11th September 2017 at Roehampton, and was organised by Professor Fiona McHardy, Dr. Katerina Volioti and WCC UK steering committee member Dr. Susan Deacy. The programme is detailed here. In this blog post, Susan reports back on the thinking behind running the event, how it all went, and where we go from here.


At the WCC-UK AGM in April 2017, I was struck that there seemed to be a shift from the inaugural AGM in 2016. In 2016, there had been a focus on problems that WCC might address in Classics. Now there was a move towards how WCC could address some of these problems. The presentation at the 2017 AGM from Dr. Anna Bull of the 1752 Group fitted this shift. Anna’s presentation raised some problems that run deep in HE culture around sexual harassment, but Anna identified various possible actions, including some do-able steps that individuals can take, and these can make a difference. It was in a similar spirit that Fiona, Katerina and I organised an event looking for possible solutions to bullying and harassment in UK Classics. Fiona and I had already written a paper that was problem-focused. It was a goal of this new event to discuss ways forward.

A number of people contacted me once the Call for Papers had gone out to give support or relate their experiences. Some were torn between coming along to help ensure that others will not go through what they had – and keeping these experiences in the past. And it was the latter that won out. This included attempting to go through institutional policies: one respondent (not a classicist) told me that they only had any success when the union at their HEI was serious about legal action for failure in duty of care. The perpetrators left, but for other institutions. This academic highlighted weak management and peer silence as practices that ‘give permission’ to bullying. Another person who got in touch – a classicist – had experiences of ‘gagging orders’ which can create a ‘wall of silence’ that allow some individuals to bully a succession of colleagues. Correspondents also discussed the ways in which universities can make their staff insecure at all stages in their careers. This culture not only mitigates against a good working environment, but it also discourages whistle-blowing, as people feel scared to put their necks on the line, for the sake of their careers.

Everyone present at the event, the programme for which is available here, was there because the topic mattered to them and/or to others close to them. We agreed to keep discussion in camera, so no twitter. Among the key issues raised were the following – and there is plenty here that WCC can explore further.

Continue reading →