Letter: Shrunken headhunters

June 1, 2001

The article on what it takes to be a vice-chancellor these days ("Hunt for the new breed of leader", THES , May 18) mentioned headhunters in general and one - Odgers, Ray and Berndston - in particular.

There are two or three other minnows in the academic headhunting field, but the v-c recruiting industry in the United Kingdom is dominated by the big fish now known as Saxton Bampfylde Hever. The shortage of suitable candidates might not be unrelated to a shortage of suitable competition in the academic headhunting industry.

I have always found the staff in headhunting firms courteous and knowledgable, but I may not be alone in feeling uneasy that such an important labour market is steadily becoming more monopolistic. The power the situation gives to a tiny number of gentlemen to decide who runs English universities is surely not yet beyond question and concern.

Gabriel Donleavy
Christchurch, Dorset

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