No role model 1

January 6, 2006

What is it with Sheffield Hallam University and management fads ("Vanquish the fatal five", December 23/30)? Having persuaded the Higher Education Funding Council for England a few years back to give it a quarter of a million of the sector's cash to develop the so-called European Foundation for Quality Management Excellence Model for higher education - which required the production of numerical scores for various institutional activities, with more arithmetic then leading to an overall institutional score - the university has now come up with a new fad.

In true fad style, this combines statements of the obvious (poor communication is a bad thing) with vague references to external pressures requiring urgent change (competing in the global market). But the real giveaway of fad status is the claim that the new "business-effectiveness model" is "already popular among private-sector managers". It may be, but for a number of well-known reasons, this is a pretty good basis for concluding that it won't be much help in higher education.

Paul Temple
Institute of Education, University of London

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