A bad business

October 19, 2007

How appropriate that Hertfordshire University, previously distinguished by the size of its vice-chancellors' salaries, can have its academic quality verified by the argument advanced by Tim Wilson ("Embrace, don't shun, ethos of business", October 12).

The economic good fortunes of Hertfordshire University have resulted as much from the transfer, development and sale of land and buildings acquired from British Aerospace and institutions amalgamated into the university during previous decades as its business links.

Whereas placements are obviously important in promoting student employment, another Hertfordshire vice-chancellor is also on record as stating that there should be no difference in the staff-to-student ratio for postgraduate and undergraduate courses.

It is inevitable that the management of the university should be attracted to the traditional, highly stratified, corporate model of British business because it approximates their own working practices whereby heads of department are directly appointed by the vice-chancellor, and academics are units of resource whose staff-to-student ratios must be maximised to the optimum.

Wilson's piece contained no relevant statistics and reads like an edited assembly of press releases from his public relations department.

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