Wheels fall off model

September 22, 2011

It was disappointing that the report celebrating Toyota as a model of efficiency made no reference to its repeated product recalls ("Academic efficiency drive may put Toyota at the wheel", 15 September).

Since 2009, something in the region of 12 million Toyota cars have had to be recalled globally due to problems with floor mats, accelerator pedals, fuel pipes and brake software, among other concerns. Conservative estimates put the cost of lost output and sales at $2 billion (£1. billion) and in 2010, Akio Toyoda, Toyota's president, publicly humbled himself when he stated that he was "deeply sorry".

Government higher education policy has the feel of a car crash waiting to happen. However, everyone who cares about higher education has a responsibility to limit the damaging human consequences arising from flawed change methodologies. The critical thinking that characterises our universities could even inform how change is reported.

A major difference between university students and cars is that students have feelings, hopes and desires that should be respected; another is that the recall process is far more complex. The costs of recalling students to redo their degrees or compensate them for the flaws that we subsequently discover would be considerable.

I would enjoy watching vice-chancellors humbly bowing like Toyoda, but in failing to think critically we would all be complicit.

Mark Hughes, Brighton Business School, University of Brighton

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

Most Commented

Monster behind man at desk

Despite all that’s been done to improve doctoral study, horror stories keep coming. Here three students relate PhD nightmares while two academics advise on how to ensure a successful supervision

Sir Christopher Snowden, former Universities UK president, attacks ratings in wake of Southampton’s bronze award

celebrate, cheer, tef results

Emilie Murphy calls on those who challenged the teaching excellence framework methodology in the past to stop sharing their university ratings with pride

Reflection of man in cracked mirror

To defend the values of reason from political attack we need to be more discriminating about the claims made in its name, says John Hendry

But the highest value UK spin-off companies mainly come from research-intensive universities, latest figures show