Shared pains

May 11, 2007

I agree with James Martin (Letters, May 4) that academic staff should appreciate the nature and constraints of the administrator's task.

Equally, administrators should understand the nature of teaching, learning and research, which renders these activities not totally quantifiable.

There is much in our recent history that academics and administrators share, not least the pressure of "professionalisation", which demands that we all demonstrate our formal training and qualifications as well as our commitment to education, to our institutions and to our specialisms, and to lifelong on-the-job training.

Noticeably, when The Times Higher reports on the annual conference of the Association of University Administrators it rarely goes below the surface of the main speakers' addresses to reflect the scope of the AUA's training and development programme.

Sadly, one recent process that will inevitably divide us is the job evaluation exercise, which appears to have redistributed the earnings pot from administrators to academics. "Not before time," some may say - but with many administrators facing a drastic salary cut there is bound to be demoralisation and resentment. This is to the shame of management and unions alike.

Ian Purver
Retired higher education administrator
Withington, Manchester

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