Running to stand still

February 25, 2010

Amanda Goodall states that the core business of a university is research and teaching ("Raise your game", 18 February), but a news story covering a conference address by John Haldane is headlined: "Teaching is the highest purpose, argues thinker".

It could be that the mass of researchers has become a drag on some universities, but good teaching should be founded on good research. At my institution, teaching is underpinned by research and this ensures that content is up to date, improving the employability prospects of our undergraduates. For instance, ethics and sustainability feature in all our courses and these issues are relevant to the real world. Our academics do not live in ivory towers.

In the same issue, Bahram Bekhradnia states that more than 8 per cent of the English sector's total income comes from international student fees, more than the research assessment exercise delivered ("They don't come for the food: sector's reputation is paramount").

So to combine the views of Haldane and Bekhradnia: instead of concentrating on publishing in journals that practitioners don't read, why don't we concentrate on recruiting foreign students to plug the gap in funding?

To do this, we must arrest declining standards. I have been an academic for more than three decades, and in that time standards in the UK have dropped, but this is not the fault of the students: assessment drives teaching, and what is taught is that which can easily be tested. Understanding is not tested. The modular system has a lot to answer for.

Standards in other countries are higher than in the UK, but instead of addressing this, we say: "Your children are running faster than ours. Can you ask them to slow down?"

Bala Balachandran, Director, accounting and finance, Cass Business School.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver

Creator of controversial predatory journals blacklist says some peers are failing to warn of dangers of disreputable publishers

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
Kayaker and jet skiiers

Nazima Kadir’s social circle reveals a range of alternative careers for would-be scholars, and often with better rewards than academia

hole in ground

‘Drastic action’ required to fix multibillion-pound shortfall in Universities Superannuation Scheme, expert warns