Funding bosses blamed for rise in bureaucracy

October 14, 2005

Attempts to reduce the burden of red tape by funding chiefs are creating more paperwork for universities, the Government's red-tape buster, Dame Patricia Hodgson, told academic administrators this week.

In a frank speech about the continuing uphill task to minimise bureaucracy in academe, Dame Patricia said the higher education funding councils were being diverted from their main task of funding institutions by attempts to "micromanage" them.

While the comments are likely to confirm many academics' worst suspicions, they may surprise funding chiefs. Dame Patricia was unveiled this summer as one of the new board members of the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

Delivering the annual lecture to the Association of University Administrators conference, Dame Patricia, who chairs the Government task force targeting over-regulation in higher education, said: "Recently, Hefce was persuaded to drop its own monitoring of personnel policies in favour of a 'self-assessment' tool. Unfortunately, the personnel professionals in the institutions worked with Hefce on a template. They came up with 90 questions." Hodgson said that "best-practice" codes are multiplying on every issue and threaten to suffocate good management in universities.

She added that the councils must not be diverted from their main tasks by "second-guessing management in 130 diverse institutions across the land".

A spokesperson for Hefce said: "We do not micromanage institutions, we work at a strategic level, and the majority of our funding is allocated by formula as a block grant. Hefce is making strenuous efforts to reduce the accountability burden on institutions and has been doing so since 2000 and before."

Dame Patricia estimated that the annual cost of regulatory demands to the sector was greater than the £210 million estimated by a Hefce report last year.

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 3 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

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver

Creator of controversial predatory journals blacklist says some peers are failing to warn of dangers of disreputable publishers

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
Kayaker and jet skiiers

Nazima Kadir’s social circle reveals a range of alternative careers for would-be scholars, and often with better rewards than academia

hole in ground

‘Drastic action’ required to fix multibillion-pound shortfall in Universities Superannuation Scheme, expert warns