In her opinion article “UK academics have snapped – and not just over pensions” (22 March), Sarah Colvin argues that universities increasingly treat academics like feckless children who cannot be trusted.
I agree with this sentiment. I did not start working in academia until my early thirties, and I could not get over the fact that it was like being back at school, like you were permanently “on report” – with metrics, reviews, scores and so on to say whether you were good enough or not.
Our institution is moving towards performance management as a way of dispensing with a few people. It is like working your whole life in a school where you just hope that you are not put on the naughty step.
Academics are more and more like dogs on a lead because we are desperate for money and students. Money from funding agencies (which tell us what is to be investigated and how to investigate it); and money from students (who buy the “student experience” in the same way they buy tickets to a theme park attraction).
We plead for support from industry, which tells us what we should teach to our students and what we should research. We are continuously ranked (top research, top teaching, top student experience, top paper…) against indicators that are quickly manipulated. Where is the autonomy?