Exercises in creativity and clarity 3

December 14, 2007

I was struck by the dissimilarity of the language and writing style of the side-by-side articles by Alex Danchev and David Eastwood on the research assessment exercise and the research excellence framework (Opinion, November 30). I wonder if the difference is symptomatic of the way in which the gap has widened between the two cultures within higher education: the administrative/managerial/bureaucratic versus the academic/research/pedagogic.

The dissimilarity was most notable in the use of certain keywords that we have all come to love or loathe, depending on which culture we belong to.

In Eastwood's article, it was striking to find the following word mentions: driver (or drive/driving), 4; robust/rigour (or robustly), 5; quality (including high-quality), 13.

To my surprise, there were very few mentions of "excellence" or "fit for purpose" (only one each) and I was astonished to find no reference to anything (such as a project or a plan) "going forward" - where else are they supposed to go?

I hope that all of us in the sector will make a New Year's resolution to rid ourselves of the jargon that we have inherited over the past two decades and to use straightforward language.

Nick Bowen
Course leader, bachelor of arts in international business
European Business School London, Regent's College.

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