Stars and martyrs

November 29, 2012

Mahesan Niranjan ("Star-spangled clangers", Letters, 22 November) criticises the current fashion among vice-chancellors to recruit "big hitters" so as to enhance their university's research excellence framework submissions, particularly the fact that such appointments tend to offer reduced teaching loads, thereby increasing the pedagogic burden on existing staff.

His words closely reflect my own experience. Two such back-door appointments have recently been made in my department at a Russell Group university.

Both involve academics whose main fields of expertise and research interests are not represented among existing students at any level, and neither of the scholars is attracting doctoral candidates or has brought any with them.

Meanwhile, there are staff in the department who are struggling to supervise 10 or more doctoral candidates apiece while also teaching large numbers of undergraduate and master's students - and being REF active to boot.

I can only hope our vice-chancellor will eventually come to realise what the rank and file have known all along: that such appointments tend to benefit few except the appointees themselves.

However, as Niranjan observes, given that our leaders are so removed from the day-to-day reality of their staff, this is unlikely.

Name and address withheld.

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
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Recruitment - Human Resources Office

University Of Nottingham Ningbo China

Outreach Officer

Gsm London

Professorship in Geomatics

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Professor of European History

Newcastle University

Head of Department

University Of Chichester
See all jobs

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

Humboldt University, Berlin

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy

sitting by statue

Institutions told they have a ‘culture of excluding postgraduates’ in wake of damning study