Front-line leaders

May 18, 2017

The authors of the feature “Leading lights” (4 May) discussed research showing how the best academics make the best heads of department.

These very interesting findings chime with my own experience at a Russell Group university. The only good head of department I have had in my years here is a world-leading researcher, who has a much better understanding of what is needed to promote high-quality research and teaching than those who turn to administration as a career choice.

Our current head of department was recruited externally. His research profile is middling, and, of course, we all realise that the people who actively choose to take on a senior management role for at least five years aren’t going to be leading researchers. This results in a manager who has an incentive to follow the central university’s agenda to the letter, introducing constant change to justify his position as someone promoted to a professorship on an admin track and having very little sense of how to promote job satisfaction and an active research culture on the ground.

It’s an infuriating situation, but I hope that this research can point higher education institutions in the right direction.


Send to

Letters should be sent to:
Letters for publication in Times Higher Education should arrive by 9am Monday.
View terms and conditions.

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

Featured Jobs

Technical Officer (Paramedic)

Staffordshire University

Professor in Marketing

Henley Business School

Lecturer or Senior Lecturer in Social Work

University Of The West Of Scotland

Research Service Manager

London School Of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (lshtm)
See all jobs

Most Commented

Daniel Mitchell illustration (29 June 2017)

Academics who think they can do the work of professional staff better than professional staff themselves are not showing the kind of respect they expect from others

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

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

As the pay of BBC on-air talent is revealed, one academic comes clean about his salary

Senior academics at Teesside University put at risk of redundancy as summer break gets under way