THE Scholarly Web - 14 November 2013

Weekly transmissions from the blogosphere

November 14, 2013

What’s the scariest thing in the world of higher education? This was the question we put to our Twitter followers on 31 October, expecting to indulge in a bit of Halloween fun.

However, the tweets that emerged under our #HEhorrors hashtag offered some unexpected insights into your workplace fears – from the lighthearted to the deadly serious.

Some tweeters’ higher education fears are surprisingly brief, even for Twitter. “The QAA” is the anonymous @orbette’s nomination, while Ingo Frommholz (@iFromm), senior lecturer in the department of computer science and technology, University of Bedfordshire, plumps for “students”. He is, of course, “just kidding”.

Linda A (@vaibabe), criminology lecturer at Nottingham Trent University, conjures up an image to strike fear into the hearts of any university employee. “The staff kitchen – especially the fridge” is her particular terror. “Writer, workshop leader and coach” Jane Matthews (@janematthews) believes that particular suggestion will get “nods of recognition not just in HE but every office everywhere”.

Andrew Keenan (@andrew_keenan), education and welfare manager at Imperial College London Students’ Union, has some words of warning about his place of work. “The SU bar, filled with sports teams, late on a Wednesday evening” is his nightmare, and he gives the reason too: “#jagermeister”.

Back in Nottingham, Linda A is less concerned about hanging out on student nights – but is worried that the chances of doing so are getting increasingly slim. “Not getting a leaflet about a nightclub as you walk through campus because you look too old” is the second of her #HEhorrors.

Simon Cook (@glacio_cook), lecturer in physical geography at Manchester Metropolitan University, bemoans the amount of “pointless blumin’ paperwork”, while higher education internal audit specialists Uniac (@uniac_audit) think the scariest thing about universities is not their financial accounts, but their toilets.

“Having the departmental photocopier throw a hissy fit when all the people who know how it works are teaching/in meetings” elicits shivers from Liz Gloyn (@LizGloyn), lecturer in Classics at Royal Holloway, University of London, while Charles Musselwhite (@charliemuss), associate professor of gerontology at Swansea University, blanches at the recollection that “you’ve called a student Dave all year, to find out he was actually called Chris as he submits his assignment”.

Others’ fears strike a more serious tone. Kenton Lewis (@kenton_lewis), partnership manager at the Higher Education Academy, worries about “the paying of lip service” by universities “to widening participation and social mobility agendas”, while “hierarchical mission group based snobbery between institutions” also make his #HEhorrors list.

Meanwhile, Anna Notaro (@notanna1), programme leader in contemporary media theory at the University of Dundee, is fearful of academics becoming too conformist. “The scariest moment in HE would be one when academics resign to ‘playing the game’ instead of changing it,” she tweets.

#HEhorrors tweets offer unwelcome flashbacks for David McGillivray (@dgmcgillivray). After reading a few, he says, he was reminded of being back in his “first class as a lecturer trying to read off handwritten notes with shaky hands”. A terrifying thought.

Send links to topical, insightful and quirky online comment by and about academics to chris.parr@tsleducation.com

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 6 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

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Retired academics calculating moves while playing bowls

Lincoln Allison, Eric Thomas and Richard Larschan reflect on the ‘next phase’ of the scholarly life