Another world

May 16, 2003

I am not surprised to read how different Stuart Murray finds life in higher education compared with further education ("Are you ready for a flexible friend", THES, March 21).

Like him, I went to work in a higher education institution and was astonished by the provision of individual offices for many staff, the custom of working from home and the remoteness of some colleagues from students.

What really amazed me, however, was the amount of administrative support provided (I had my own secretary after 20 years of very little administrative support - it was like stepping onto the QE2 ) and, more worrying, the seeming unwillingness of the institution and some staff to want to react to the changing educational circumstances such as Curriculum 2000.

The tortuous committee structures seemed designed to strangle at birth any prompt reaction to developments. I found this totally demotivating, stultifying and frustrating. Even the committee minuting style was strictly controlled: bullet points were NOT to be used!

So I left higher education and returned to the world of advice and guidance and further education matters. Here we have to react quickly to education department initiatives and green and white papers in order to best serve our students and the colleagues who advise them.

Carole Williams

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