Working together with a shared vision 1

April 16, 2009

The tension between academics and administrators is emphasised by describing it as a "divide" and an "iron curtain" ("By the role divided", 9 April). Positive examples of "blended" professionals (is that this year's adjective?) are cited, but a key point is missed.

All UK universities exist to deliver learning and research and to pass it on to society, graduates and employers. Therefore, teaching and research are their core businesses.

The people who do this teaching and research need help to do it as well as possible, to ensure that its costs are covered and that it stays on the right side of the law. This support can surely best be provided within teams whose members understand the complexities and subtleties involved.

This understanding is unlikely to be developed away from the "shop floor", so the teams should be located where the action is - near teaching spaces, research laboratories and libraries, not in a separate "Senate House". Then, and only then, might we have contented teams of colleagues - friends even - sharing a coffee room and pulling in the same direction, with no talk of divides or curtains. Or have I come over all utopian again?

Peter Goodhew, University of Liverpool.

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