Saturday, February 8, 2014

Academic ideals are being crushed to suit private-sector style management

    Saturday, February 08, 2014   No comments

As an early-career lecturer in a post-1992 university, I often feel like a rare bird in an ornate cage struggling to maintain its dignity in a discount superstore filled with pets. This bird knows it could have been a proud representative of a noble lineage and chirrups dolefully as it ruffles its plumes, but the song is drowned out by the bustling sale of cheap, plastic imitation bird-objects around it.

The British higher education sector is in full-on crisis mode and those chosen or imposed to oversee this crisis are, in the main, non-academics and are recruited from the private sector. Academic ideals are being crushed by the visions of middle-management bureaucrats who view the progress and survival of higher education as requiring its surrender to private sector ideals. The changes in higher education over the past few years have been dramatic, with £9,000 a year tuition fees only the latest and most public step in what appears to be a wholesale corporatisation of the sector.

Along with this "progress" comes inevitable inequality. The University and Colleges Union (UCU) have recently joined forces with Unison, Unite and EIS to organise a series of strikes by members over unfair pay. According to UCU figures, last year the Universities and College Employers Association offered university staff a paltry 1% pay rise, which actually amounts to a 13% pay cut since 2009.


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