The impact debate: hazards of discourse in the UK

Duke, C. (2011) The impact debate: hazards of discourse in the UK. Journal of Adult and Continuing Education, 17(1), pp. 115-129. (doi: 10.7227/JACE.17.1.9)

Full text not currently available from Enlighten.


The UK higher education community is well served for news and policy discourse by the weekly Times Higher Education (THE). THE also provides a window into the conduct of this community. Concern about the contribution of research to the wider society beyond academe has risen along with its scale and cost. Views became polarized about the possibility and desirability of measuring ‘impact’ as a basis for allocating funds for research. The ‘impact debate’ is entangled with efforts to assess the quality of research, and thus in turn with the recent rapid rise to prominence and influence of competitive worldwide rankings of universities, so far informed principally by research performance. Within this wider setting, the paper concentrates on the nature and effect of public controversy about impact in the UK, as expressed in THE over a two-year period. The author's main interest is in the contribution of universities to balanced social and economic development, nationally and especially regionally. It is proposed that the defensive positions taken by some opponents of impact assessment may damage universities' capacity to behave as responsible regional citizens, and weaken the wider community's support for universities that is needed for their public funding, helping to precipitate what critics fear.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Duke, Professor Chris
Authors: Duke, C.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Journal Name:Journal of Adult and Continuing Education
ISSN (Online):1479-7194

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record