U.K. Poll Warns Scientists Will Flee Country

Scientists in the United Kingdom continue to protest plans by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to incorporate "economic impact" into decisions on what research to fund. According to a poll released today by the University and College Union, more than 69% of 589 professors objected to HEFCE's plan, with many worrying it would stifle curiosity-driven research.

Additionally, the poll (results here) found:

* Over a third (35%) would consider pursuing their academic career abroad if the changes were introduced

* One in five (22%) said they knew colleagues planning to leave the country if the changes were introduced.

* Half (49%) said the proposals would influence the hiring and firing of staff in their department

* Almost three-quarters (72%) said the changes, if introduced, would lead to changes in policies and practices in their department

* Almost two-thirds (65%) said they thought the proposals would alter the focus and practice of research in their department.

In December, UCU sent a petition to HEFCE objecting to the economic impact evaluation, saying it had drawn some 18,000 signatures among academics.