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UKRI must reverse suspension to rescue its reputation

1 November 2023

ʵ has written to UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) calling on it to reverse its decision to suspend its advisory board on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion within 48 hours. If it refuses to do so, the union will call on its members to resign from voluntary positions with the funding body.

In the letter, ʵ conveyed its anger and disappointment at UKRI's to Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Skills Michelle Donelan, after her over the weekend.

The letter also criticises the Secretary of State for seriously misrepresenting the views expressed by two members of the advisory board in a transparently political attack.

ʵ general secretary Jo Grady said: 'It is deeply disappointing that, instead of pushing back against the inappropriate and disproportionate demands which were a thinly veiled excuse to attack wider Equality, Diversity and Inclusion efforts, UKRI has capitulated to unwarranted pressure and in doing so offered validity to this intervention by opting to suspend the advisory board. This cowardly decision has had a serious impact on the sector's confidence in the independence of UKRI's decision-making processes.

'It is absolutely paramount to the protection of academic freedom that bodies that administer research funding are able to operate free from the whim of ministerial diktat. UKRI's actions over the last three days have given academics cause to think carefully about whether, given the politicisation of the organisation, they wish to continue to serve on UKRI bodies.

'We are already seeing principled resignations from such bodies and warn UKRI that there is very little time to preserve what is left of its credibility. Unless the decision to suspend the advisory board is reversed within 48 hours, we will call for ʵ members to resign from all voluntary UKRI positions.'

Last updated: 2 November 2023