Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

HE&me

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

HE&me

Article excerpt

Diane Coyle is vice-chair of the BBC Trust and also sits on the Economic and Social Research Council research committee. She was the economics editor on The Independent for eight years and a member of the 2010 Browne Review of higher education funding. In September she is taking up a role as a professor of economics at the University of Manchester

Where and when were you born?

Bury, Lancashire in 1961. I grew up in Ramsbottom, then a rather grim mill town, now a very pleasant place.

How has this shaped you?

In the way we're all shaped by our upbringing. I grew up a working-class Northerner. That's not my life now, but I remember there not being much money around so I hoard special buys from the supermarket, and I still like my beef properly cooked, ie, brown all the way through.

What is the biggest economic challenge facing the world at the moment/in the near future?

Moving from an ultra short-term time horizon for economic choices (by governments, businesses and individuals) to long-term sustainability of all kinds: environmental, financial and social.

Will the UK's economy ever be completely free from the disastrous effects of the 2008 financial crisis?

"Ever" is a long time...but we're certainly a long way from cleaning up the financial system itself. Banks are still undercapitalised and over-leveraged, do not face effective competition and serve their customers very badly.

Do policymakers listen enough to academics?

Largely only to the academics who make the time and effort to engage with them, including through the media.

If not, why?

Many academics are poor communicators because their professional standing rests on their internal language, and their incentives have so far largely been tied to research publications. And it does take substantial time and effort to engage with the policy world, which has its own peculiarities and pitfalls. However, policymakers greatly undervalue what they could get from engagement with academics.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

To be less afraid; to be courageous about taking opportunities.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

The earliest ambition I can remember is wanting to be a philosopher, spending my days sitting in Parisian cafes. I have a vague recollection of wanting at an earlier stage to be a detective.

What do you do for fun?

Ballet classes.

What's the use of economics?

At its best, economics is an engine of progress. …

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