Some of the sympathetic reactions to a university's micromanagement strategy ("You want jobsworths? Then pay us what the job's worth", 10 September) betray a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the academy. Students ought to view university like a gym membership. It provides really expensive equipment (library resources and such), along with specialised gym instructors - academics. The more students use the equipment and advice, the more value they gain.
Moreover, apart from advising and commenting on students' workouts, lecturers are generally paid to administer the structures of the "gym" and work out on the equipment themselves. The latter is good for "instructors", but also for the equipment, because when they work out, they add to the resources on offer (further mountains of books, articles, etc).
For this part of their job, lecturers do not need to be in a physical location, because the equipment is mainly virtual and portable - as is always the case with the brain. Micromanagement surveillance plans are premised on the wrong assumption (and a hole in the analogy) - that for brain work, we need to see the sweat.
Paul Sullivan, University of Bradford.