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Thursday, 12 September 2013

The state of HE: commentary from both sides of the pond

First of all, from one of my favourite bloggers, read THIS.  This is especially for all of you (us) who work in UK HE and think your institution and its management is/are spectacularly shit and miss/es the whole point of academia/education on a daily basis, mostly since (by the very fact of their having opted to go down the administrative career route) those management types have tacitly admitted that they have nothing intellectually creative left in their heads (if indeed there ever was anything there).  Well, to all of you/us, read that piece and see if you or anyone you know can top it for sheer, well ... read it and see.  I dare you.  It will put things in some perspective.

I am sort of hoping it is some kind of clever prank on Voley's part - to invent and post this tale of woe and sit back and watch how people accept it as true, as all too believable, pitching in with comments such as those above - to show the state to which we have been reduced.  How UK HE has become some kind of massive David Lodge theme park, except that at least David Lodge was funny ... before someone at the dept of Business, Innovation and Skills mistook Nice Work or one of the other campus novels for a radical  neo-liberal Higher Education policy manifesto.

Sadly I think it is simple reportage.  Unless I have wandered into the Vole's cunning trap.

Then, from the other side of the Pond, I was watching (as is my sad wont) CSI Miami (aka the World's Worst Cop Show).  Tonight's episode featured the murder of a cultural anthropology professor (Horatio: He's taken a permanent sabbatical. *puts on sunglasses* Yeeeeeeaaaaaahhhhhhh!!! *run opening credits*).  At one point he is interviewing one of the deceased's students - the murdered prof turning out to have been a bit of sadist, who wanted to teach his students that pain and violence were essential to civilisation. Or something.  [You can fill in your own digression on pop culture's depictions of the university.]  The student says he may have been a sadist but his research papers were brilliant.
Horatio: "Ned, don't you think that a human being should have greater value than a research paper?"

Well.  There, sadly, is a question we can all ask our superiors on a regular basis.  Cutting right to the heart of the problem, Horatio.  Right to the very heart.