It has been a busy couple of months in the policy world and for BAM. Since our last update in April, we have made three new submissions to parliamentary inquiries and government consultations. Providing evidence for policy making is an important role for us to play – not just to be ‘good citizens’ as a learned society and raise our profile with policy makers, but also to ensure that the expertise and concerns of our members are heard on issues of importance to the wider business and management (B&M) research community. Since May last year we have made 12 responses to inquiries, consultations, and policy events as an organisation – which is a record that we can be rightly proud of.
In May this year, we responded to the government consultation on 'Future Frameworks for International Collaboration on Research & Innovation' that will inform Sir Adrian Smith’s review into the subject. In it, we highlighted the need to ensure that any potential future UK funding schemes to promote international collaboration and blue-skies research should be undertaken alongside the negotiation of associated status in the next European framework programme (Horizon Europe) and its related programmes. We included evidence to demonstrate why this would help ensure a more stable and diverse research funding landscape, needed to protect UK science community funding for the future.
In early June we made a submission to the Government Office for Science (GO Science) concerning the impact of the proposed new immigration system on the science, research and innovation community. We provided detailed evidence of the high levels of international staff in the B&M community, and of their regional and contractual composition. In total, 35% of B&M academic staff were of international origin in 2016/17, and over half of all such international staff were of EEA-origin. Our submission highlighted the potential impact that factors like the proposed £30K annual pay threshold for skilled migrants, suggested in the government’s White Paper on the future migration system, will have on our continued ability to retain and recruit global talent – from early career researchers to esteemed professors.
In late June, we responded to the parliamentary Liaison Committee’s inquiry into the ‘Effectiveness and Influence of the Select Committee System.’ Select Committees provide an important platform for scrutiny of government policy on important issues, while acting as a conduit for research evidence to be put before policy makers in a constructive way. Yet, there are ways that the system could be changed to improve the diversity of both evidence and witnesses that reach parliamentary Select Committees. We focused our evidence on adjustments that could be made in order to help ensure a fuller depth and breadth of available evidence reaches policymakers in a timely manner. In sum, these included suggested ways to: 1) improve public awareness of which inquiries are ongoing, the stage in which they currently stand, and the contributions that researchers can make; 2. widen the disciplinary and methodological range of evidence received by the Select Committees; and 3. increase the diversity of the individuals and organisations providing evidence to Select Committees.
In other policy news, the Augar review of Post-18 Education and Funding launched its report on 30 May, recommending a cut in tuition fees from £9,250 to £7,500 beginning in Academic Year 2023/24. The report made a number of other recommendations as well, including changes to (and rebranding of) the student loan system, as well as increased support for further and technical education (including the reintroduction of maintenance grants for some and £1 billion in new capital investment) – to name just a few. One of the main concerns with the recommended cut in fees chargeable to home students is, of course, that it may not be balanced by Treasury with the concurrently recommended ‘top up’ in grant funding to universities, or that any top up money allocated in this way could be directed by government towards some subjects at the expense of others, taking control away from universities and potentially endangering some courses in the creative arts, social sciences, and humanities. However, the current political climate is making the future implementation of Augar’s recommendations uncertain. We have, therefore, along with many others, held off making a detailed statement at this time and instead will gather views from our leadership and membership over the summer to inform a future response as matters become clearer. As always, we welcome input from our community, and I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you would like to share your thoughts on the Augar review with us.
In the interim I continue to work with the Executive Committee, our Fellows, and the SIGs to respond to inquiries and consultations of importance to the business & management community. I also continue to attend and contribute to meetings as part of our outreach and engagement to the wider community. Most recently, for example, I attended the celebration of global ‘Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises Day’ or ‘MSMES Day’ on June 27th at United Nations headquarters in New York, helping to introduce BAM to a new audience. The event was sponsored by the UN ECOSOC and SDG, Argentina, the International Trade Centre (ITC), and the International Council for Small Business (ICSB).
I encourage you, as always, to visit the policy page on the BAM website at https://www.bam.ac.uk/policy. There you will not only find links to all of our inquiry and consultation responses, but also to policy news (such as the current impact training sessions being offered by parliament), grant and funding opportunities (such as the ESRC’s call for internationally collaborative research on artificial intelligence), and other useful resources (such as our infographic on the added value of business & management research or our 1-page guide to submitting evidence to parliament.
I look forward to seeing many of you at the BAM 2019 conference in Aston in September, where I will be chairing sessions with ESRC on writing better grant proposals and reviews, and the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST) on engaging with policy. In the meantime, have a wonderful summer!
Ashley Lenihan, PhD
Head of Policy & Engagement
British Academy of Management