Employers' offer is not fair game 4

April 14, 2006

We applaud Susan Bassnett's comments on the lack of action by the academic community on university issues. It is true that academics have failed to challenge ill thought out policies that have undermined the sector, which is now blighted by a managerialist culture and where a focus on "quality" and "skills" has supplanted the liberal virtues of critical thinking and the furtherance of human inquiry.

There are disturbing reports of academics' careers frustrated by obstruction and intimidation from senior colleagues. Our work has revealed how universities are increasingly used as a means for policy-makers to pursue social welfare reform without public debate or adequate funding. We agree with Bassnett that there are far bigger issues facing universities than pay.

We fear that the concern about salary levels has eclipsed any debate about vital issues concerning the role of universities and has deflected attention from other onslaughts. Unless we pause to think about what is happening to the fabric of higher education, before long there will be no UK academic sector in which today's junior staff can seek employment in the future.

Sally Baker
University of Wales, Bangor

and B. J. Brown
De Montfort University

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