Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Letters

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Letters

Article excerpt

Carry on researching

There is a bit of "don't question our behaviour, trust us" to the proposals in the Stern review and the recommendations about non-portability ("Stern might change the rules, but the REF game is still a game", Opinion, 11 August); people who benefited from a research excellence framework transfer window think, now that they are in charge of institutions, that it's a terrible idea and needs to be removed. The ones making the policy will never have to experience its consequences and are blithely certain that this will end gaming rather than creating new games tilted in favour of institutions over early career researchers.

The REF window was absurd, but non-portability is not the answer. What I write now builds on what came before; indeed, there are a couple of back-burner articles that were mostly written three years ago at a different institution. I'd like to give them credit, but not at the expense of my current one. Without a mechanism for sharing outputs we will always have a system in which institutions seek to maximise their claim over high-producing academics and minimise their claim over those seen as "weak".

jreades

Via timeshighereducation.com

Summer what?

Reading the feature on the summer habits of academics, I thought that it must be nice to be an academic able to work at home or at the beach and go on (genetic material sharing opportunity) conferences and the like, while the rest of us continue to support the postgraduates working through the summer in research departments ("Summer working, had me a blast", Features, 11 August).

The stress of working during the "summer break" to make sure everything is in place to please the new students to ensure continued high "student satisfaction" affects lots of "other" staff, and some academics who are specialists in the likes of computer science - no quietening during the summer for them. Work-life balance - don't make me laugh! Human resources will assist in driving the wage slaves to the brink, too often at the behest of managers with little training and even less compassion, to get the place ready for fresh meat week. The days of enjoying the job and summer recess are long past, and don't get me started on the pre-sessionals for the extra income that is now so important to cash flow.

NeilJohn

Via timeshighereducation.com

Taking the lead

The need to "build bridges" in the right places is key to future success for many universities ("Could accepting a Poppleton view of the campus build bridges?", News, 4 August). However, the academic-administrative bridge is not the only connecting interface that might need attention. Better connecting the university to the city region, fostering university-industry collaboration, excelling at interdisciplinary research, building multi-university collaborations and developing strategically significant international partnerships are all important bridges that might need work. An inability to prioritise the important things risks focusing on too much with too little, creating a scattergun effect that can suck in resources and produce systemic mediocrity.

A risk in responding to external threat or opportunity is that institutions become fragmented and trapped in silos. This privileges tribal behaviour. It accentuates the divides between academics and administrators and pits units against each other in a fight for resources while the overarching purpose of the university is obscured.

It is bridge-building leaders who are able to produce the conditions in which independence and interdependence can successfully co-exist and flourish. …

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