Post-92 snobbery lingers on - in new universities

January 1, 2009

Managers at one post-1992 university may have been shocked to discover that snobbery about new institutions is still going strong - even among its own staff.

When the University of Lincoln undertook an internal survey, staff were asked whether they would recommend it as a place to work or study.

A significant number said they would not, often because they saw older rivals as more "aspirational".

A leaked email from a senior manager reveals that "many academics might still see redbricks, rather than new universities, as representing an aspirational standard, and therefore would not recommend a new university even though they worked in one."

The memo is from John Simons, dean of humanities, social sciences and technology, and it sets out the findings of two focus groups that were formed to investigate staff attitudes after the survey.

It reports that staff felt that career prospects for researchers at Lincoln were poor, saying that "although the university had a research-related mission, it did not, in fact, make facilities, resources and working patterns available that really supported staff".

They said that student-to-staff ratios were "far too high" compared with similar universities, and that bureaucracy was an "endemic" and "deprofessionalising" problem.

But the results were not all bad news: there was recognition of a good collegial spirit within departments.

A spokeswoman for the university insisted that concerns about the university's aspirations were "not representative", as only about 25 people took part in focus groups out of a total of 809 staff who completed the original survey.

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