A bad business

September 1, 2006

According to Kel Fidler, the vice-chancellor of my univer-sity, "more and more universities are recognising that they have to be run as a business" (Opinion, August 25).

A pro vice-chancellor recently concluded a lengthy review of my department with an address to 25 academics in which he began with the boast "I am a businessman". The reorganisation of the department that ensued has led to the complete demoralisation of the human resources (the staff); the deterioration of the product offered (the programmes); the alienation of the customers (the students); and a threat to the turnover (the number of new students choosing the programmes).

The savings made have been negligible and easily offset by the damage done.

It is bad enough that those charged with managing our academic institutions no longer aspire to be academics. What compounds the insult is that they are not necessarily competent businesspeople either.

The pro vice-chancellor in question has since been rewarded for his business acumen with a promotion to a vice-chancellor post at another university.

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