No room for thought 1

May 12, 2006

One might have thought that a university's assistant director of estates who detected dust on academics' bookshelves would have considered how effective she was in managing the university's cleaning staff ("Door slams shut on a room of their own", May 5). Instead, Sue Holmes apparently decided that academics did not need individual rooms.

Alan Woodruff, a head of estates, suggests that we should spend "most of our time in class". They might also reflect that their respective universities are efficient institutions in which lecturers and researchers earn the income that keeps estates staff employed.

Some support staff feel that they are best placed to dictate how academic life should be organised. Academics who produce the income are increasingly controlled by human resources, estates, IT systems and services, finance and other departments, who - as evidenced by your report - sometimes have little comprehension of what their university's business is actually about.

Alistair Ross

London Metropolitan University

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