Letter: Flak for all hacks (1)

December 15, 2000

David Palfreyman's points to a problem with "well-meaning amateur dons as part-time committee hacks" (Letters, THES, December 8). That problem is far worse in Cambridge, and it concerns me that Oxford is getting flak that ought to be coming Cambridge's way, too. Oxford has at least really been trying.

Both universities have the privilege of being run by their academic staff, which those elsewhere should envy. No NHS-style manager domination for us. We have administrators who advise and cannot give orders.

But scholars who would hate to be called arrogant and ignorant with reference to their research or teaching resist the simple requirement that they need to undertake training to do a professional job on those committees. Then they could work with administrators intelligently instead of fighting like children among themselves.

They also find it difficult to see beyond a small patch of territory that they have a personal interest in defending.

Accountability has to begin to go further than "trading" favours with fellow members of committees.

Unless the necessary culture change takes place quickly, the accumulating evidence of incompetence, delay and unfairness to staff and students is going to mount so high that there will be public discrediting of two ancient universities. They have much to lose.

G. R. Evans

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver

Creator of controversial predatory journals blacklist says some peers are failing to warn of dangers of disreputable publishers

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
Kayaker and jet skiiers

Nazima Kadir’s social circle reveals a range of alternative careers for would-be scholars, and often with better rewards than academia

hole in ground

‘Drastic action’ required to fix multibillion-pound shortfall in Universities Superannuation Scheme, expert warns