Laurie Taylor Column

August 25, 2006

What Are You Reading on Holiday?

We continue our investigation into academic holiday reading by making another surprise call to a leading university figure.

This week : Jamie Targett, Head of Corporate Development, University of Poppleton.

Holiday venue : The Excelsior Mind and Body Motivational Centre (somewhere up north).

Jamie Targett : Targett.

Times Higher : Ah, Mr Targett. Times Higher . We wondered what you were reading now.

JT : On or off the record?

Higher : On.

JT : I'm reading a major new volume called The Three Stage University: Maximising Control and Intellectual Output by Daniel J. W. Chegwin. It's an analysis of the main stages in the evolution of the contemporary university.

Higher : What's Stage One like?

JT : This is what Chegwin calls the "Academic Community Stage". Essentially anarchic. No real leadership. Morale is high, but productivity dangerously low.

Higher : And Stage Two?

JT : That's essentially the present situation, what Chegwin calls the "Biscuit Factory Stage". A control-and-command model with strong vertical hierarchy and an emphasis on production targets but with residual elements of obstructive individualism.

Higher : And Stage Three?

JT : That's the interactive model, with a high degree of horizontal organisation and one central electronic control system ensuring that students can be quickly fed with correct information using a multi-screen information system with high bottom-end levels of continuous surveillance.

Higher : And what does Cheggers call that?

JT : The "Call Centre Stage". Very much the coming thing.

Higher : Thank you, Mr Targett. Off the record, are you reading anything else?

JT : By my bed is a book called Nineteen Eighty-Four . Professor Lapping sent it to me suggesting it might be relevant. I can't think why. It sounds so out of date.

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