It is a rare moment when critics of exercises such as the Research Excellence Framework feel vindicated by a government-commissioned review. Nicholas Stern’s review of the REF, though broadly in favour of it, includes some important criticisms. It acknowledges that the REF has functioned to the disadvantage of women, Black and Minority Ethnic academics, and academics with disabilities; that it devalues interdisciplinary research; and that its narrow conception of ‘impact’ has been geared towards policy changes and the commercialisation of academic work.
On 4 December, the University of London was granted an injunction from the High Court that prohibits ‘persons unknown (including students of the University of London) from ‘entering or remaining upon the campus and buildings of University of London for the purpose of occupational protest action’ for the next six months. Many such injunctions have been granted to universities across the country over the past four years, with increasing frequency and ever wider restrictions on student protest. In this case, the University of London argued that the occupation of Senate House threatened the liberty and freedom of senior university personnel, and presented a risk of damage to property, despite assurances from the occupiers that staff were free to come and go from the building and no such damage would occur. The eventual eviction of the occupiers was rough and violent. On 5 December, 35 students were arrested and several of them detained overnight. Some were assaulted by the police.