No time to sulk over swingeing cuts

June 2, 2006

Name: Gina Wisker

Job : Director of learning and teaching development at Anglia Ruskin University, but I am moving to become director of the Centre for Learning and Teaching at Brighton University. I also teach English and supervise PhDs. At Anglia, I co-ordinate women's studies.

Salary : Good but not enough.

Training : BA, MA and PhD in English from Nottingham University, PGCert and advanced diploma in teaching and course development in higher education (London), and a Staff and Educational Development Association fellowship. I've worked in schools, further education and for the Open University.

Working hours : I often seem to start at 7am and finish in the middle of the night. Because educational development involves international networking, I've run workshops in Fiji, South Africa, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, and I have a visiting fellowship at Griffith University in Brisbane. My sons and dogs are supportive.

Number of students you teach : About 16 PhD students, eight MA students and 24 BA students.

Biggest challenge : Cuts, swingeing business-oriented changes.

How you solved it : I moved on, but before going I decided not to sulk and contributed with a surprising amount of empathy, insight and insider knowledge to the various changes and reviews.

Worst moment : Being powerless to stop the closure of courses that empower diverse students.

What is your office like : Full of examples of my students' creativity - a handmade Toni Morrison Beloved quilt cover - and things they have sent me or I have brought back from working abroad: African handpainted hangings and a Malaysian tindulang.

Do you socialise with people at the university? Yes, with colleagues and students who have become friends.

Who are the most difficult people you deal with and how do you cope? Bigots and button-counters. It is important to have right on your side, develop well-researched arguments, seek friends in high places and student support.

Best excuses for bad behaviour : "The university has to operate as a business."

Do you interact much with other parts of the university? I enjoy working with staff throughout the university, though it occasionally demands political acumen akin to working for the United Nations.

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