Magazine article The Spectator

Two Kinds of Don

Magazine article The Spectator

Two Kinds of Don

Article excerpt

From Joseph Palley Sir: Boris Johnson laments the declining quality of British universities, with growth in student numbers outpacing funding ('Farewell to the Young Ones', 27 May).

The problem is not just financial but cultural.

It has always been assumed that university lecturers, as good teachers, will automatically be good researchers. This false assumption was less damaging 50 years ago, when only a small, self-confident number of schoolleavers, better prepared for self-study, went on to university. As staff-student ratios worsen and universities concentrate on research to attract funding, the trend is towards more teaching by postgraduate students, assistant lecturers and part-timers.

Surely lecturers entering the profession for the first time should now have to pass a one-year postgraduate certificate of education teaching qualification? Beyond this, universities should follow Cardinal Newman's recommendation of a separate career track for gifted lecturers who prefer teaching to research. …

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