Cool air for when life's no breeze

December 1, 2006

Name : Susan Starkings.

Age : Old enough.

Job : Head of skills for learning, Centre of Learning Support and Development, London South Bank University.

Salary : Awaiting higher education role analysis result.

Education/background : I have taught in education for more than 24 years, starting at South Kent College for eight years and then on to higher education at LSBU. I started at LSBU as a senior lecturer in mathematics for decision-making and was promoted to principal lecturer to set up and run a central academic support centre for all LSBU students. I am honorary officer for education and chair of the Education Group for the Royal Statistical Society. I have worked with many international universities on statistical education. I won a National Teaching Fellowship in 2006.

Working hours and conditions : Long and variable, but I can take holidays at various times of the year.

Number of students you teach/staff you manage : I manage a team of about 50 staff, but this varies due to the number of hourly paid lecturing staff we use during the year. For example, we have many temporary staff over summer on our pre-entry courses. The support service is open to all LSBU students, so it's difficult to know how many I teach during the year. Teaching in a support setting gives plenty of variety.

Biggest challenge this year : Getting an additional full-time post to add to our team.

How you solved it : By demonstrating the demand and how this would benefit the university and the students.

Worst moment in university life : Being interviewed.

What your office is like : Small but air-conditioned. I have been offered a larger office but prefer my air conditioning - especially considering this summer's heat.

What university facilities do you use? Very few.

Do you socialise with people at the university? Sometimes, but mainly with specialists in my subject in other universities, in the UK and overseas.

Who are the most difficult people you deal with professionally, and how do you cope with them? Life can be difficult, so I just get on with it.

Do you interact much with other departments? All the time. My role is to provide excellent academic support for all students and staff. I need to know what is going on in departments to offer this support, which covers mathematics, statistics, English language and study skills.

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