No points for quality 1

October 29, 2004

The employment of headhunting firms to recruit deans and research professors ("RAE triggers headhunt race", October 22) has nothing to do with the 2008 research assessment exercise.

But it does have everything to do with a state-of-the-art managerial culture in which senior management spends as much money as possible on jobs-for-the-boys stunts, while the people who do the real work have all their responsibility and initiative taken away, and the people who are supposed to receive a service -students - are short-changed.

If universities were really interested in research performance, they would recruit scholars who had discovered hitherto unknown texts by major authors for their English departments, historians whose books were extravagantly praised in the national press and translated into foreign languages for their history departments, and have their research degrees supervised by people who have shown they know how to earn a highly praised doctorate in under three years.

In practice, scholars with that sort of record won't even have their references taken up.

All the headhunters will do is find out which professors are paid most for having done least, and persuade some desperate institution to offer them an extra £20,000.

A. D. Harvey
London N16

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