Dealing with those difficult dons

May 4, 2007

Name: Becka Currant

Age: 33

Job: Head of the Learner Development Unit, Bradford Univer-sity, which provides centralised skills support to students and staff.

Salary: £38,019

Background/ education: I studied for a BA (hons) in linguistics at the University of East Anglia and then became a sabbatical officer in my student union, responsible for academic affairs. In 1998, I moved to Bradford and became the student development co-ordinator. I obtained a certificate in training practice from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. In 2001, I became a careers adviser and gained a postgraduate diploma in careers information, education and guidance and a diploma in post-compulsory education and training. In 2006, I established an academic skills unit for students and became senior adviser in 2007. I am due to start a PhD in September on transition and motivation.

Working hours and conditions: I deliver core services between 9am and 5pm and work some evenings and weekends. I travel a lot to conferences, but this can be difficult as I have a four-year-old child.

Number of students you teach/staff you manage: I manage a team of three LDU advisers and a Royal Literary Fund fellow. I work with all students and staff at the university.

Biggest challenges this year: Establishing a new unit, embedding the LDU within the institution, and not taking on too much.

How you solved them: I built on my reputation for quality and being able to deliver by running pilot activities with particular cohorts to embed the LDU further and establish a relationship with non-users.

Worst moment in university life: Accidentally forwarding an e-mail containing private comments to a university e-mail list.

What is your office like? The LDU consists of private and shared office space, a training/meeting room, private space to see clients and a drop-in desk in the library.

Do you socialise with people at the university? I am married to a member of staff and socialise with a few friends who also work here.

Who are the most difficult people you deal with and how do you cope with them? Academics! Especially those who refuse to change because they can't see the impact their behaviour is having on students. I cope by being in a role where I am able to influence policy and shape strategy.

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