Corporate types, keep out

May 20, 2010

The academy faces a perfect storm. The spending cuts we are liable to face will be comparable to or worse than those in the 1980s. What makes this prospect so horrifying is the way that in the past two decades, higher education has been infected by managerialism and weakened by intellectual corruption.

Scholarship has been undermined by faddish strategic priorities, themes and the desperate competition for funding. Universities have demeaned themselves by trying to emulate the bogus and pointless corporate imperative for "visions" and "missions" articulated in ever more obscure jargon, combined with truistic avowals of "excellence" and the like.

If we are to save British universities, we must reject the recent emphasis on processes, structures and reorganisations. So the last thing we need is a cohort of vice-chancellors with degrees in business administration and habits of thought nurtured in the corporate world - people who know nothing about academic life ("Casting the v-c net far and wide would ensure the best catch", 6 May).

James Ladyman, Department of philosophy, University of Bristol.

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