Gaining time

November 22, 2002

The adoption of the North American grade-point system will be good news not only for students and employers but also for academics ("US grading to edge out 'firsts'", THES , November 15).

As the standard of the degree - the grade-point average - will now be determined by an unambiguous computer calculation, it should eliminate the need for boards of examiners and should drastically reduce the lengths of the agendas of boards of studies and faculty boards.

In the US, there are no such encumbrances on the time of academic staff and I am sure most of my UK colleagues will welcome the additional research time that release from these will provide.

However, I say "should eliminate" advisedly. I am well aware of the historic tendency in British society to fudge organisational innovations in such a way that any productivity or other potential gains that they encompass are not fully realised.

In the interests of improving research performance, I hope that colleagues will take this opportunity to shake off their bureaucratic inertia and for once not allow history to repeat itself.

Jeffrey Henderson
Professor of international economic sociology
Manchester Business School

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