Thin on top

November 22, 2012

Your article on the question of academics with doctorates tells only half the story ("Proportion of academics with PhDs is 'low'", 1 November).

There is a growing body of university managers, deans, deputy vice-chancellors and the like who do not have higher degrees, have modest or non-existent publication and funding track records, and did not rise through the traditional academic pathways. It is hard to be an academic leader when one has not undertaken many of the basic requirements of the profession because one cannot lead by example or demonstrate an innate sympathy for or knowledge of what it takes to work as an academic.

This shows in the increasing managerialism and bureaucracy that is deskilling and deprofessionalising the sector. These underqualified people hold university reputations and academic working conditions in their hands, yet they are often unappointable at the lowest levels of their own faculties.

If there is doubt over the direction of universities in these uncertain times, look at the leaders, not the foot soldiers.

Tony King, Bristol.

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