Research is a pivotal part of Higher Education, all universities do research to some extent, even if it is research into their teaching that never get published in peer reviewed journals.
The problem with the current system is that research is only rewarded if it has REF'able impact. There have been many criticisms of this system, non more poignant than this paper, on evaluating how we evaluate.
For my contribution to this debate, I agree that there is much more to research and being an academic than the 'publish or perish' mentality. Many academics do fantastic outreach work which has amazing impact on local communities, or put enormous amounts of effort into helping their students succeed by researching and reflecting on how they teach and how they can best enable all their students to learn and grow. Teaching in itself is not rewarded enough and the fantastic research done by the non Russell group universities tends to be overlooked when government or RCUK grants are being handed out. Open access is a way that under fair conditions can enable access for everyone to publicly funded research. But again this news article shows that again elite Russell group institutions who already get more than their fair share of funding and grants are getting even more help to go open access. This article has it right in the reasons behind this dubious regime. Post 92s are very successful in widening participation and giving equality of opportunity for more to get into education from working class and ethnic backgrounds. Education should be a right not a privilege. The students at our university get a say in the research process, and many have taken part in real research and have even published papers before graduating, through fantastic projects like those in the Centre for Research-informed Teaching. We should embrace opening access to research and support those who take part in the research process whatever their background. Education and Research can only improve equality in our society, so help raise up everyone who has a passion for learning and applaud their commitment.
Here's to more of this