Tuesday, 2 August 2011


A selection of quotations on the modern university:

The model for the university is now the factory. The factory mass-produces qualified students, thus adding value to the raw material. The academics, the workers on the shop floor, are there merely to operate the mechanical procedures which have been approved by the management and checked by the inspectorate. Since they are mere operatives, they can of course be paid accordingly’ (Gombrich 2000).
If this guy's dead, he'd be turning in his grave over what John Major's successors have done:
‘However, what is probably the most debilitating characteristic of academe in Britain today is a sense of loss. For much of that a philistine’s government with a barbarian’s manners must take plenty of blame’ (Eustace 1994: 115).
‘I do not know why we university teachers never said – “that is not what we do” when all this started. I suspect it was insecurity about our own professionalism and a (rather childish) wish to be given a gold star as validation from outside authorities and a bigger gold star than our rivals. Well, we have certainly reaped the whirlwind and had the vestiges of independent professionalism stripped from us’ (Parker 2003: 530)
(Because there are plenty of starving PhD students ready to do our jobs.

Finally, my colleague Penny's suggestion for humanising the campus:

We all have faults, weaknesses, annoying habits. But we all respond positively to being understood and accepted, to being treated kindly. Kindness is a seriously under-rated virtue in the marketised public sector we work in. It’s not SMART, it’s not thrusting or dynamic or penetrating or ahead of the curve or whatever the current jargon is, but making kindness a key principle alongside fairness could really improve the texture of our daily lives. If we tried to do all these things, it would put us in a better position to reclaim some of our professional autonomy and reassert our right to make a serious contribution to institutional decision-making.


Adam said...

Vole, welcome to the ranks of the fungible. Just be glad your job can't be outsourced to an offshore Excellence Centre... yet.

Music for Deckchairs said...

Please thank your colleague Penny warmly for the kindness manifesto. Exactly right.

The Plashing Vole said...

What a wonderful word fungible is.