Room for a Barry Manilow poster

June 9, 2006

Name : Symon Quy

Age : Firmly in the mid-life crisis zone.

Job : Senior lecturer in education at Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London. Small institutions require staff to wear many hats.

Mine are : teacher-training manager, BA lecturer and course leader of the Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.

Salary : Not nearly enough to cover the vices, but we don't really do it for the money, do we?

Training : Moved to higher education after ten years as a secondary school teacher. Happily, my subject has allowed me to grow with it.

Working hours : Surreal at times. My workload is outcome driven, so I get to organise my own schedule.

Number of students you teach/ staff you manage : I'm responsible for the learning of about 120 students a year. I also manage five colleagues, which is plenty.

Biggest challenge this year : Freeing myself from teaching, managerial and administrative duties to complete the research project attached to my award in 2005 of a National Teaching Fellowship.

How you solved it : I'll tell you when I have.

Worst moment in university life : Dealing with a postgraduate who had plagiarised. The evidence was unequivocal and the outcome of the process was depressingly predictable.

What is your office like? My office is a portable cabin, but at least it's mine. Many colleagues have to share. At least I don't have to negotiate where the Barry Manilow poster goes.

What university facilities do you use? Being the English equivalent of what Americans would call a "sidewalk" university, we have fewer "facilities".

Do you socialise with people at the university? Yes, although work does get in the way.

Who are the most difficult people you deal with professionally? Ofsted inspectors. I try to play their deliveries with a straight bat, but usually end up being clean bowled.

Best excuses for bad behaviour you have heard : From a teacher being chased up on an appalling record of punctuality and attendance: "It's all I can do to get myself in to work - I have a school phobia, you know!"

Do you interact much with other parts of the university? Yes - a pleasant feature of smaller institutions is that most staff know each other well.

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