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Pro-Vice-Provost’s view

PaulAyris9 March 2018

The role of libraries in Open Science

One of the new responsibilities of my role as Pro-Vice-Provost is to steer the introduction of Open Science principles and practices into UCL. Open Science is a European term, and it covers all academic disciplines, including Arts, Humanities and all the Social Sciences. In the UK, we would more easily talk about Open Scholarship.

Burghley House, Lincolnshire

Open Science is the movement to make scientific research, data and dissemination accessible at all levels of an enquiring society (definition from the FOSTER project).

I am often asked what the role of libraries is in this new movement. So I have tried to answer this in a jointly-authored article which was first given as a Conference presentation in the 2017 LIBER Conference (Association of European Research Libraries), which took place in Patras in Greece:

Paul Ayris and Tiberius Ignat, ‘Defining the role of libraries in the Open Science landscape: a reflection on current European practice’, in De Gruyter’s Open Information Science, vol. 2 (1), at DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1515/opis-2018-0001.

The piece has lots of UCL examples and covers areas such as Open Access, Open Access publishing, Research Data Management, the European Open Science Cloud and Citizen Science. The paper ends by suggesting a 4-step test through which libraries can assess their engagement in Open Science.

Later this academic year, I am planning a 1-day Workshop on Open Science for academic and academic support colleagues across the whole of UCL. Please watch this space for more details, if you want to join us.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)

Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

PaulAyris15 February 2018

2nd International Conference for University Presses (REDUX 18)

13-14 February 2018 saw ALPSP (Association of Learned and Society Publishers) in association with UCL Press host the second international conference for University Presses, called REDUX 18.

Between 200 and 250 attenders from all over the world joined the event. There was a particularly strong contingent of University Presses from North America.

The purpose of the Conference is to provide a venue for all University Press publishers to meet together every 2 years to consider current publishing practices, possibilities for future developments and the relationships between the Press and their parent University bodies. Many, but not all, University Presses are run through University Libraries – UCL Press certainly is. There are clearly advantages in such a close relationship and these became clearer during the course of the 2 days. Shared digital infrastructures, shared leadership, an understanding of issues common to both parties, such as metadata creation and discoverability – these are all areas where sharing adds value to Press activity.

The Conference was a mixture of plenary and parallel sessions. UCL was well represented in all these activities. Ilan Kelman from the UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction was a brilliant panelist, looking at authors and their publishing experiences in a paper entitled ‘To Suffer the Slings and Arrows of Academic Publishing?’. Ilan edited the book Arcticness: Power and Voice from the North which UCL Press published in 2017. Ilan also gave one of the best academic assessments of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), which UCL has signed. DORA says that the Journal Impact Factor (JIF) cannot be used as a measure of quality for individual articles. On day 2, Rozz Evans spoke in the Libraries session of the Programme and gave a very good analysis of UCL’s ‘New Approaches to Collection Management – What Might it mean for Publishers?’.

I myself did not speak at the event, but was honoured to be asked to chair the session on Open Access, with speakers from the USA and France. Peter Berkery from the Association of University Presses spoke on collaboration. Pierre Mounier from OPERAS spoke about collaborative publishing infrastructures and how his consortium, of which UCL Press is a key member, is trying to build just such a public infrastructure for Europe. Frank Smith from JSTOR described how Open Access books have helped change and develop the services which JSTOR offers to the community. This is certainly true for UCL Press, where our download figures have doubled through putting copies of UCL Press titles onto the JSTOR platform.

REDUX 18 was a great event, and a particular success for UCL Press. Lots of people at the Conference spoke to me of their admiration for the UCL Press model and the tremendous results we are getting in terms of downloads – currently 737,148 since June 2015 in 221 countries/territories. It all bodes well for the future of UCL Press and the innovative publishing models for research monographs, textbooks and journals/megajournals that we are developing to bring disruptive change to academic publishing.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost

UCL Library Services

 

 

 

The Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

PaulAyris17 January 2018

UCL Press Megajournal platform

16 January 2018 saw the soft launch of the UCL Press megajournal platform to an audience of 55-60 people in the JZ Young Lecture Theatre.

What is a megajournal and why is UCL Press launching a megajournal platform? Essentially, a megajournal is a platform where cross-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary work can be brought together and where the outputs are characterised by openness – of peer review (where the reviewers’ reports are available for scrutiny), of readership (when the final output is freely available for sharing and re-use), of scope (where, for example, underlying research data can be made available alongside the published output), and of evaluation (where responsible metrics are used to help evaluate the quality of the outputs).

If that is the ‘what’, then why is UCL Press taking this road? The megajournal platform looks very unlike traditional journals. The reason is this – there is a growing acceptance that the future of scholarship is best served by the Open Access and Open Science agendas. What is the best mechanism to achieve this transition to full Open Access? Research funders have started establishing their own Open Science platforms and research-intensive universities like UCL can do the same. This has the power to change the culture in academic publishing by bringing publication and dissemination back into the academy.

It was these questions and potential solutions that the Megajournal platform launch sought to celebrate and investigate. Three external speakers set the scene – Robert Kiley, who talked about the Wellcome Trust’s Open Research platform; Stephanie Dawson from Science Open, which is the company selected by UCL to deliver its Megajournal platform; and Dr Catriona MacCallum from Hindawi. The plenary session concluded with a presentation by Ian Caswell of UCL Press, announcing the broad details of the planned UCL Press provision, which will work initially with the environmental science research domain in UCL to create an environmental science Megajournal.

The Town Hall meeting ended with a Question and Answer session with the speakers plus Paul Ayris as CEO of UCL Press, which was chaired by Professor David Price (Vice-Provost, Research). This session showed very lively engagement in Open Science by the audience of 55-60 attenders – journalists, commercial publishers and academics.

The UCL Press Megajournal platform will be formally launched in the autumn of 2018 to co-incide with Open Access week. It is an important development in the Press’s mission to change the pattern of scholarly publishing in the academic community as Open approaches gain momentum in a global move towards Open Science.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)

Brexit phase one deal viewed as positive news for universities

Benjamin G MMeunier14 December 2017

Ahead of the European Council tomorrow, I am writing with a brief summary on the agreement which was signed off in the early hours of Friday 8th December, when Prime Minister Theresa May and Jean-Claude Junker agreed a deal on key issues to enable discussions to move on to Britain’s future relationship with the EU.

The joint report published by the British Government and EU negotiators has been broadly welcomed by Universities UK and the Russell Group, as good news for universities on key issues, including:

  • progress on securing the residency rights of other EU citizens living in the UK
  • the UK’s continuation in existing EU programmes fostering collaboration between institutions, including Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+, and
  • the European Investment Bank.

Universities UK welcome in particular “the fact that agreement has finally been reached which should ensure that the 46,000 other EU nationals working across the university sector can remain in the UK indefinitely. In addition, we are encouraged that today’s agreement offers further clarity that UK universities, students and researchers will continue to be able to participate in incredibly valuable programmes such as Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+ until their end dates.” Jo Johnson has confirmed that UK organisations and individuals will have continued full access to Horizon 2020 for the duration of the programme, until the end of 2020. It is also helpful that the cut-off point for EU nationals to be covered by the agreement has been agreed as the date the UK leaves the EU in March 2019, rather than earlier dates which have been mooted. People with settled status will be able to spend up to five consecutive years outside of the UK without losing this status.

One caveat on the deal, even after its expected ratification at the EU summit tomorrow is that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”, meaning that some aspects of the phase 1 deal may be revisited. However, there is a widely-shared sense of hope from EU and UK parties that the key issues around citizens’ rights and continuing budgetary contributions will not be jeopardised by the next phase of negotiations.

Hopefully, colleagues affected by Brexit will feel that the greater sense of clarity emerging from the negotiations provides some comfort, after a protracted period of uncertainty. Earlier this week, the Prime Minister wrote a letter to EU citizens in the UK to reiterate that the rights of EU citizens in the UK and those of UK nationals living in EU countries were now secured, and provide reassurance for the future.

For further advice, UCL Library Services staff can refer to the EU referendum portal: www.ucl.ac.uk/eu-referendum. You may also access personal support from the University’s Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) on a confidential basis. Support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year for staff.

The Pro-Vice-Provost’s view

PaulAyris17 October 2017

European Commission’s Open Science Policy Platform

On Friday 13 October, I attended the European Commission’s Open Science Policy Platform (OSPP) in the Kultuurikatel (Creative Hub) in Tallinn, Estonia.Culture Hub The Presidency of the Union is currently held by Estonia and the theme of the meeting was to discuss how Europe can embrace Open Science (Open Scholarship). Open Science is the movement to make scientific research, data and dissemination accessible to all levels of an inquiring Society, amateur or professional (Wikipedia). I was there as the representative of LERU (League of European Research Universities), of which UCL is a member.

The agenda covered three Reports from Working Groups of the Platform, which commented on fuller reports from High Level Expert Groups. The three Reports were on Rewards, Skills and New Metrics. A substantial part of my role as Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services) is to seek to embed Open Science (Open Scholarship) approaches across the whole University. The three Reports were generally accepted. I hope that they will be published soon on the Commission’s OSPP website.

FlagsThere are a number of high level issues which I will be taking forward in UCL in the wake of the discussions on Friday. Two are particularly relevant to the Library. First is Skills. The Skills Report identifies what new skills and knowledge are required from all colleagues in UCL to engage with Open Science (Open Scholarship). Two immediate deliverables from this will be (a) further engagement with the UCL Doctoral School and (b) the organisation of Open Science (Open Scholarship) Workshops in UCL to advocate for Open Science approaches.

The second area of immediate interest to the Library is the Report on New Metrics. This document looks at how we identify success in an Open Science (Open Scholarship) world and what measures can be used to document that success. This has immediate interest for the UCL Bibliometrics Working Group, which is drawing up a Bibliometrics Policy for UCL with plenty of examples of good practice.

The OSPP will be producing further Reports in the coming months and I look forward to seeing these, particularly the Report on the future of Scholarly Publishing – as UCL is seen as a European leader in this field. Open Science (Open Scholarship) represents a real change in culture in how universities work, collaborate, share, engage with Society and are transparent in their activities. It will be an important journey in the coming months and years. Open Science (Open Scholarship) is already embedded in the forthcoming revision of UCL’s Research Strategy and will, I am sure, be an important part of the new Library Strategy.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)

Higher Education Conference 2017: highlights

Benjamin G MMeunier17 October 2017

The annual Higher Education (HE) Conference took place last week at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, in the shadow of Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. big ben scaffolding (2)I attended to learn more about how HE policy is changing, as both Brexit and the focus on student fees in the recent General Election are continuing to impact on the future of universities. There were a range of speakers, from HEFCE, universities, suppliers and experts in education. Below are some highlights from 2 key speeches by the Chief Executive of HEFCE (1) and the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buckingham on new ways of thinking about the role of universities as educators (2), as well as a summary of a panel discussion on life for universities after Brexit (3). I will post separately on a learning spaces workshop led by a US furniture supplier, based on their research and experiences of fitting out learning spaces.

 

 

1. Keynote Address, Prof Madeleine Atkins, Chief Executive of HEFCE

HEFCE is the body which currently funds and regulates universities and colleges in England; from next year it will be replaced by the Office for Students.

The Chief Executive of HEFCE set out 4 main themes:

  • Brexit
  • Industrial Strategy
  • Social Mobility
  • The Student Interest

 

  • Brexit concerns
    • Rights of EU staff and researchers
    • Relationships and partnerships with EU institutions
    • Funding

Prof Atkins indicated that whilst there are (many) challenges, there is also a significant “Brexit opportunity”, namely that the UK as a country, may be able to define an international strategy for research partnerships, which was not possible or practical eithin the EU. An early example perhaps was Jo Johnson, as Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, signing a £60m agreement with the US Department of Energy’s for the LBNF/DUNE neutrino programme in late September: http://news.fnal.gov/2017/09/uk-commits-88-million-lbnfdune-first-ever-umbrella-science-agreement-u-s/.

(Whether or not this agreement was helped by Brexit is open to question, but there is a sense that research institutions in the UK are thinking very seriously about which countries and institutions we wish to make or grow partnerships with.)

 

  • Industrial Strategy

Prof Atkins expected that the White Paper for the new Industrial Strategy was due around the time the Budget comes out on 22/11. The UK Government is determined that research, knowledge exchange and commercialisation undertaken by HE institutions (HEIs) should increasingly be linked and be seen to be linked to the priorities identified in the Industrial Strategy. She referred to a HEFCE-managed £100m boost provided by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for industrial priorities as well as an additional £100m capability fund to support university-to-university partnership for innovation.

Apprenticeships should be seen as part of this broad Industrial Strategy, with many apprenticeships being created in Engineering/STEM areas.

Advent of new T-level (Technical) qualifications coming alongside A-levels: Prof Atkins suggested that HEIs need to think about equivalence of qualifications, so that in due course a “climbing frame of opportunities” enables students to move from secondary education to Further Education into HE.

 

  • Social Mobility

Prof Atkins reiterated that social mobility is an absolute priority for the current government. She outlined how HEFCE has been supporting this, for instance through a collaborative outreach programme, working with 25 consortia with schools and local communities. This initiative is taking action at ward level, looking at school outcomes based on student results at 16.

The full impact of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and its use of student background data has yet to be determined. Prof Atkins speculated that this data being made public would shape how providers are perceived, in terms of the reality of widening participation. Future use of these data will become very important, helping to give much more sophisticated answers to “what works in social mobility?”.

Better information and better careers guidance for students is a priority for OfS.

HEFCE is looking to develop a toolkit for learning gain in curriculum (identifying metrics and effectiveness of curricula). HEFCE has agreed over £4m of investment in this area, expect OfS will continue with this investment. For more information, see HEFCE’s webpages dedicated to learning gain and current pilots.

Finally, Prof Atkins referred to the emphasis made by Nicola Dandrige, the incoming Chief Executive of the Office for Students (OfS) in a speech to the NUS on 09/10: “the OfS will be the champion of students and the taxpayer, not the friend of institutions.”

[See also this recent report from HEPI (August 2017): Where next for WP and fair access?, which was mentioned during the conference]

 

  • Student Interest

The traditional view of young 18-yo F/T student as the default model for universities is becoming increasingly obsolete.

Whilst the percentage of 18 year olds in education has been generally rising, there has been close to a 60% drop in Part-Time mature students; at the same time, in-house training is declining. Prof Atkins suggested that the sector needs to consider how the Apprenticeship levy can be used to support people in employment as part of CPD.

 

Opportunities and Challenges

  • Teaching excellence and student outcomes
  • REF 2021
  • Related initiatives

 

Teaching excellence and  Student outcomes

Sir Michael Barber, who will be Chair of the OfS, sees TEF as part of the “Golden Age” which he expects to introduce. For his full speech to Universities UK, see UUK’s website.

TEF structure retained for Year 3 TEF (specification published last week, on DfE website)

In order to gauge to progress of HEIs in preparing students for employment, LEO (Longitudinal Employment Outcomes Survey) will be used as a metric in the new TEF. ProfAtkins added that Subject-Level TEF is progressing: pilots are recruiting for panellists and assessors now. It will be rolled out across the UK in Year 5, i.e. 2019-20.

 

REF 2021

Prof Atkins described a number of decisions recently agreed by HEFCE:

  • Impact weighting goes up
  • Each area will include a member of the panel focused on multi-disciplinary research
  • Entries will be allowed to demonstrate how they support activity outside of the university
  • Impact in teaching will be allowed, including impact within the institution

HEFCE webinar and blog floated suggestion that portability of outputs could be resolved for 2021 by some double-counting as a transitional method, i.e. both originating and new institutions eligible to submit.

 

Joint Agendas: OfS and Research England responsibilities

  • Postgraduate
  • Knowledge exchange
  • Infrastructure funding
  • Health of disciplines
  • Sustaining the research base
  • Research degree awarding powers
  • Interface between TEF and REF

 

Related initiatives

  • Learning Gain Programme
  • Degree Apprenticeships
  • Institute of Technology
  • Expansion of medical places
  • Connecting Capability Fund
  • Research Partnership Investment Fund
  • Local Growth Academy programme (sending representatives to the next iteration of Academy programme, to address the need of HE institutions to work more closely with regions/sub-regions, NHS, etc.) to address precise regional needs in social mobility or industrial and skills needs

 

2. Should we be Educating just Brains or Whole People in HEIs, Sir Antony Seldon (VC, University of Buckingham)

New paper published on “The Positive University” [See also caveats on wonkhe: https://wonkhe.com/blogs/beware-of-the-positive-university/]. The University of Buckingham is regularly ranked as best in the UK for student satisfaction (in fact, it has been top or second every year since 2011 – see, for instance,

http://www.independent.co.uk/student/student-life/Studies/buckingham-university-named-best-in-the-uk-for-student-satisfaction-a7006276.html or https://www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/universities/top-5-uk-universities-for-student-satisfaction-2018/?entry=1)

Sir Antony, Vice-Chancellor at Buckingham, is also a contemporary historian, educationalist, commentator and political author. He makes 10 recommendations in his new book about transition between school and university. He described the 10 points in his talk, which was well presented, posed challenging questions to reflect on and was at times caustic towards leaders and managers in the HE sector, particularly around the need to speak out and act as a critical friend of government, rather than slavishly following policy. As noted above, some caveats have been raised against the moralistic aspects of positive psychology.

1) Need to ensure staff are contented, so that they can fulfil role in supporting mental health and pastoral care for students, as well as having fulfilling lives.

2) The VC of Buckingham questioned why there is a paradox currently, where British universities have never been more successful but public opinion on universities has never been so low

2) Universities are called “Higher Education Institutions”: too often, the focus on the “H” detracts from universities’ role as educators

3) What does “education” mean? to lead out / to draw out what is inside. HE has narrowed down intelligence to 2 of the 8 types of intelligence (see Howard Gardner, Harvard). Focus on linguistic and logical intelligence. Sir Antony argued that universities need to also develop emotional intelligence, social intelligence, cultural intelligence, kinaesthetic intelligence, moral intelligence, spiritual intelligence.

Not about teaching to the tests: schools that prioritise roundedness see their results increase. Those that prioritise results, see decline.

4) UK has extraordinary universities but need real leadership to help them grow and thrive. Universities are narrow. Universities are mainly driven for academics; academic subjects need to be re-booted to their radical roots.

5) Rebellion about universities; government is coming in and insisting on the TEF. In critiquing TEF, Sir Antony contended that it is mechanistic, not looking at learning, more focused on teaching, little learning from abroad, little learning from schools. Sir Antony recognised that there was a need to address education in universities, but does not believe TEF is the right approach.

6) VC pay case playing out over the summer was not persuasive for VC salaries; in contrast with other university staff pay

7) Subjects need to be re-oriented to radical roots, not shaped around academics’ career needs

8) All students should do volunteering

Everybody should be taught virtues: performance virtue (see Jubilee Centre for performance, Birmingham); Civic virtues, Moral. All students should be taught entrepreneurship. Everybody should be taught leadership.

9) The positive university. General mental health crisis response was to get more counsellors, but that is insufficient – need to also think about how to develop personal efficacy and resilience. Mindfulness is one way that we can learn.

10) The British HE sector is outstanding. Contribution of universities to local communities as well as to public perception of Britain abroad is boundless. Sector needs to lead more strongly, to be clearer on the benefits of our sector, since the public case is not being made. Positive psychology, about advocacy and making the case.

Antony Seldson panel

3. Maintaining International Collaboration after Brexit

Brenda McMahon (Global Head of Higher Education, British Council), Vivienne Stern (Director, Universities UK International), Conrad Bird (Director of the GREAT Britain Campaign, Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet Office)

 

Universities showing commitment to students in the aftermath of Brexit vote. GREAT Britain Campaign keen to support universities promoting to international students, e.g. via the embassy network.

 

UUK: “need to work harder”. Plenty of reasons for believing that we will retain access to some key partnerships, based on government rhetoric (frameworks for research, Erasmus +)

If cannot remain in EU frameworks, UUK are looking at how we can work with networks (scenario planning with EU counterparts)

The British Council is supporting and avocating for an “open Brexit” with movement permitted for staff and students

 

Conrad Bird: people who come into contact with a country (as a tourist, student, coming across culture in own country, etc.) are c. 30% more likely to invest in that country. There is a business case for attracting students into the UK.

UUK: there has been neglect in terms of developing commercial/innovation links with other countries. There will be more of this type of thinking. UUK have launched a blog campaign on “bringing innovation home” (600 words, write to Miranda.Thomas@international.ac.uk) describing benefits of universities’ international activity for local/UK firms.

 

How are Government addressing the risk of loss of EU research funding?

UUK: absolutely believe that belonging to framework is essential and irreplaceable. 7-year multi-lateral agreement provides stability for major international partnerships and also supports networking and benefits not just UK but also EU institutions.

UUK understand urgency; EU counterparts don’t really know whether UK partners can be included in bids. Theresa May said to the House of Commons on 09/10 that the UK wants to continue contributing to research programmes; commitment of intents. Conrad Bird (to the audience of university staff): “you’re doing very good work in this area and I think it’s being heard.”

 

Overall, the discussion illustrated that there is still a lot of uncertainty around Brexit (unsurprisingly) but the agencies and government departments involved are committed to ensuring that the HE sector in the UK is maintained as a world-leading area. There was no guarantee, nor indeed any real news, about Brexit at the conference, and I will update you as and when there are any developments. I referenced the UUK “bringing innovation home” blog above, in case it is of interest to colleagues (within the Library or UCL more widely).

The Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

PaulAyris28 September 2017

Openness as a feature of Global Universities

On 27 September, I spoke as a panellist in Brussels at an event organised by the European University Association and Digital Europe.

Brando Benifei, MEP

The theme was Openness as a feature of Global Universities. One of the panellists was Brando Benifei MEP (pictured here), an Italian Member of the European Parliament, who spoke eloquently on the power for good that Universities were in Society.

I spoke as a member of the panel immediately after the MEP, and my topic was Open Science. I took this to include Open Access to publications; Open Research Data; transparency in the use of bibliometrics, including the use of alternative (or new) metrics; a recognition of Openness in career and promotion criteria; and Citizen Science.

These were the main points I made, which were extremely well received by the audience:

  • Open Science is a new paradigm for how research (in all subject areas) is conducted and disseminated;
  • Openness and transparency are good for research, as they allow opinion and findings to be tested, debated and validated;
  • Truth knows no national boundaries. It cannot be confined behind national or regional borders.  This is important because  ‘The research function of universities also makes them the engine of progress in today’s society’ – Dr Gerald Chan speaking at UCL, 14 July 2016;
  • ‘University research is now the most powerful impulse for human progress’. ‘A university is first and foremost a community of scholars teaching, learning and pursuing scholarly inquiries that spring from human curiosity’ – Dr Gerald Chan speaking at UCL, 14 July 2016;
  • UCL’s Global Engagement Strategy:
    • We are London’s Global University – in, of and for London and the wider world. Our mission is to deliver sustainable and globally relevant impact in research, education and enterprise for the benefit of humanity.
    • We look to generate practical impact, not expand our global footprint.
    • We will do this through ‘partnerships of equivalence’, and a small number of strategic ‘anchor’ partnerships, to co-create mutually beneficial solutions. We will support the internationally collaborative creativity and initiative of our individual academics and faculties – see http://www.ucl.ac.uk/global/strategy/.
  • By way of practical example, UCL Press embodies the values of Openness. It is the UK’s first fully Open Access University Press. Established in June 2015, it has published over 50 books and 9 journals. This has resulted in 450,000 downloads in 193 countries;
  • The Why We Post series studying global social media usage has now exceeded 200,000 downloads.

Open Science is a growing phenomenon, where Europe can assert global leadership. In the 15th century, the invention of moveable type printing in the West revolutionized the way new ideas were disseminated across Europe. The Protestants in particular seized on the new technology of the printing press to advocate their views. Such technology changed European Society – and Open Science has the power to do the same in the 21st century.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost

UCL financial support for staff for immigration fees

Benjamin G MMeunier19 September 2017

Since my last post on Brexit earlier in the summer, I am writing with news on the launch of a loan scheme set up by UCL. Having listened to feedback from staff over the past few months, UCL has put in place a new scheme to provide financial support for eligible staff.

Following the decision that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union, UCL is keen to support its employees to help secure a right to work or a legal right to permanently live and work in the United Kingdom.

For this purpose, UCL is offering an interest free Immigration Loan of up to a maximum amount of £10,000 for eligible employees to obtain immigration law advice and to make certain immigration applications for you and your Immediate Dependant.

Full details can be found here.

Brexit flag

OPERAS – Open Access in the Scholarly Research Area through Scholarly Communication

AlisonFox18 July 2017

 

Posted on behalf of Lara Speicher, Publishing Manager, UCL Press

In June, I took part in the first meeting of all the members of a European consortium developing pan-European infrastructure and services for open access in the social sciences and humanities, led by the French organisation Open Edition. Partners from 22 organisations in 10 countries (Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and the UK) gathered to discuss the progress of the project to date and next steps in development. UCL Press joined in March 2017 as one of eight core members of the consortium.

OPERAS already has two projects underway that have received significant funding from Horizon 2020. The first of these is OPERAS-D, a design study to address the long-term requirements for governance models, structures and scientific and technical concepts for future services that the infrastructure will provide. The second is HIRMEOS (High Integration of Research Monographs in the European Open Science Infrastructure), which focuses on the monograph as a significant mode of scholarly communication, and tackles the main obstacles preventing the full integration of publishing platforms supporting open access monographs. It will do this by improving five existing open access books platforms, enhancing their technical capacities and services, ensuring their interoperability and embedding them fully into the European Open Science Cloud.

OPERAS’ final goal is to clarify the landscape of Open Access book for libraries and funders through a certification service (DOAB – Directory of Open Access Books); to improve the accessibility and dissemination of research outputs in SSH through a single discovery service; and to increase the impact of multidisciplinary research on societal challenges through a single ‘research for society’ service. It will also provide communication and advocacy, training, R&D, development of business models, standardization of technologies, and adoption of best practices for open access.

OPERAS is now planning its next stages of development – its governance, business model, legal status, and operational development over the coming years, and UCL Press is looking forward to being more involved in the next stages. At the meeting its new work packages were launched, and UCL Press will be involved in the Business Models and Communications work packages. This highly ambitious project aims to address many of the challenges that currently hamper open access from becoming the standard practice for scholarly communication. By pooling resources and expertise from across Europe, OPERAS is developing a significant step forward on the path towards open access for all.

Find out more:

Proposals for EU citizens’ post-Brexit rights

Benjamin G MMeunier29 June 2017

Brexit negotiations between the UK and the EU have started and the government published a paper setting out their offer for EU citizens in the UK earlier this week. As has been widely reported, the EU considers that this forms a first step for negotiations, although it has called for more assurances and certainty. In today’s edition of the Times Higher Education, Michael Arthur, UCL President and Provost, said that the fate of EU staff was a “critical” issue for institutions:

“We actively encourage UK and EU politicians to make rapid progress on this issue, so that the current uncertainty facing EU citizens, including our staff and students, can be resolved,” he said.

eu-uk-flags

The full paper setting out the government’s proposals is available online:

Safeguarding the position of EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU

 

I appreciate that at this time, being a EU citizen in the UK feels somewhat unsettled and different to the pre-Brexit sense of “normality”, whereby living and working in the UK was virtually no different from any other EU country. We are still in a period of lingering uncertainty, which will dissipate as the negotiations progress. I take some encouragement from the fact that these negotiations on the status of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in the rest of the EU are among the very first to be discussed. There seems to be an eagerness to resolve the issue promptly, as noted above, and the emphasis on “safeguarding the position” of EU citizens currently living in the UK. I am also heartened by the stance which UCL has taken, through the Provost in particular, to highlight the contribution which EU staff and students make to the university and to publicly emphasise that we are valued members of the UCL community.

At a national level, the Russell Group has made a number of statements on behalf of the many EU citizens who work in member institutions. Its June briefing (published before the Government proposals were made public) highlighted that “a strong base of talent from Europe and across the world enables research-intensive universities to remain globally competitive and is fundamental to excellent research, innovation and education. EU staff members make a significant contribution to our success, in particular to the excellence of the UK research base and in teaching key subjects vital to the UK economy, such as STEM and modern languages.

Currently, there are around 24,860 members of staff from other EU countries at our universities:  15% of the overall workforce, 23% of academics and 27% of staff on research-only contracts are EU nationals.”

The Russell Group added that whilst it welcomed the expressed intention by both the Government and the EU to strike an early agreement on the rights of EU citizens in the UK, it sought the following reassurances:

  • “Confirmation of the continued working rights for current EU staff (and their dependants) at UK universities and for those who take up positions before the UK has left the EU. We would want staff and their dependants to retain the same rights to stay and work without a visa that they have now (with no time limit placed on this)
  • In the longer term, we want to ensure our universities can continue to recruit the talented staff they need from all over the world without overly-burdensome visa requirements. “

 

UCL HR have advised that, at this stage, there is no change to the rights of EU citizens within the UK. As previously advised, if you have any queries or concerns, please contact me in Paul Ayris’ absence. You can also find information on UCL’s EU referendum webpage for staff and students (including an FAQ): http://www.ucl.ac.uk/eu-referendum