Rights and rungs of promotion (2)

November 26, 2004

Missing from your booklet on getting promoted is any mention of the fact that promotion based on prejudice, patronage or privilege is unlawful. Under the Education Reform Act 1988, universities have a legal obligation "to apply the principles of justice and fairness". This is enshrined in their model statutes.

The principles are often flouted, of course, as several contributors to the booklet tacitly acknowledge. A worthy applicant who lacks the support of the head of department, perhaps through envy or groundless personal antipathy, can be stymied, without any easy avenue of recourse. Heads of department are largely unaccountable, with no effective lines of command. Power often corrupts and in a small but growing number of cases leads to bullying. This is a serious defect in university governance that needs to be addressed, but among the ranks of the promoted few seem exercised about it.

Andrew M. Colman
Professor of psychology
Leicester University

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