From RAE to REF: Trust and atmosphere in UK Higher Education reform

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This analytical paper aims to examine trust and research atmosphere in higher education in the case of UK. It takes an economics perspective and draws on a conceptual framework developed by Hallén and Sandström (1991). It argues that the current Higher Education reform risks making the research atmosphere move from ‘trustful’ towards ‘opportunist’. The UK government has recently taken a new turn with regard to its research and funding policies for universities: changing from a supply to a demand model, with an emphasis on research impacts. The new initiatives, such as Research Excellence Framework (REF), can have adverse effects on trust and research atmosphere in higher education. Without trust, the integrity of scientific enquiry in higher education is undermined. This paper therefore investigates the detrimental impacts of such turn of research and funding policies on higher education. A call is made for real politics in higher education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-38
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Education and Social Policy
Issue number1
Early online date31 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2019


  • higher education management
  • education reform
  • trust and academic integrity
  • REF research excellence framework
  • higher education policy
  • uk higher
  • research policy
  • rae research assessment exercise


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