“We hear a rising chorus of complaints about arrogant universities,” Glyn Davis, the vice-chancellor and principal of the University of Melbourne, writes in his article “‘Arrogant’ universities seen as out of touch and ripe for cutbacks” (Opinion, 20 October).
It is rather a sad reflection on society and its values that universities are seen as a cushy number when those of us who work in them face pension cuts, a salary that has not kept up with inflation and a rising workload.
Moreover, getting an academic position is a highly competitive process, and securing one represents a return on all the hours of study and work put in earlier in life. The jobs are not handed out in the fashion of some government posts (for example, seats in the House of Lords); they are hard won, and then hard to keep.
As a staff member in a Russell Group university, I long ago gave up any attempt to achieve a work-life balance; now divorced, I have little spare time after seeing my children. Admittedly, the work that I and my colleagues do is often more enjoyable than that of many people; nevertheless it is grossly unfair to categorise academic conditions as overly generous. I have a friend from school who is materially much better off having gone into industry after his PhD – and he works relatively short hours, Monday to Friday.