Why the NHS is a perverse role model

October 18, 1996

David Albury proposes a radical restructuring of academic life. Staff would become independent contractors, who bid for work from managers, who would specify courses and research programmes to meet market needs.

I am sure that other readers will comment on the educational issues, but perhaps I could draw a parallel with the NHS. This was, after all, mentioned in his article.

The NHS was reformed in a rather similar way some years ago, though with the express aim (significantly, not mentioned directly by Albury) of creating a market in public health care.

Thus there was the split into purchasers and providers. I think it would be fair to say that this experiment has not been a great success.

It is certainly clear that bureaucracy has increased and that the various players in the game have taken rather narrow views of their roles. Whether the hidden hand of the market has delivered benefits to patients seems an open question. Given that this was one aim of the reforms, it is an important question to face.

So what benefits would flow to students and consumers of research from Albury's proposals? I am not sure that I can think of any and it would seem perverse to repeat an unsuccessful experiment in these circumstances.

Mike Pidd Department of management science, Lancaster University.

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

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