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Social scientists call for changes to higher education bill

The UK's Academy of Social Sciences has said that further amendments are needed to the higher education and research bill to ensure that the proposed research-council umbrella organisation UKRI can achieve its full potential.

In a joint briefing, published on 5 December, the academy and the Campaign for Social Science said that the bill should explicitly state that the secretary of state has a duty "to consult with the scientific and research community on any proposal for research council reform”. The bill as it stands does not allow for a consultation with scientific stakeholders over adding, omitting or changing the remit of the research councils, they said.

The document, published ahead of the second reading of the bill in the House of Lords on 6 December, also said that the social sciences should receive explicit recognition alongside the sciences and humanities, rather than “depending on a simple definitional clause”. It is particularly important to safeguard the place of social sciences within UKRI in light of political pressure in the United States, Australia and elsewhere to restrict public funding to some social sciences, the briefing said.

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