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No way to run a University?

October 7, 2010

Imagine you are a small University department, running an undergraduate scheme or two and an MA or two. As part of your delivery of these courses you have always bought in professionals from industry to teach specific set elements of the course – either in small workshops or for short periods as part of the delivery of a module.

Imagine that you have a specific and modest budget set aside for this kind of teaching, let’s say £10,000 per year. Your School had a surplus last year and has a surplus projected for this year and next year, which includes your spending this £10k.

As part of the austerity measures this year, you propose to spend only £5,000 on this type of teaching – only half. This will help in the general belt-tightening you are encouraged to take part in. You are doing your bit, you feel.

But then imagine that you are told you are not allowed to spend any of this budget, which exists, and is allocated at £10,000, unless you can prove that this teaching is ‘essential’. Your definition of ‘essential’ – exposure for students to industry practice – is not the same as the person who holds your budget.

The quality of the education the students are to receive is to be significantly diminished, as a result of these ‘economies’. Perhaps you finally manage to argue to be allowed to spend some of the budget already set aside, but you quickly have to arrange to cover elements of pedagogic practice usually taught in custom and practice by people within industry.

This doesn’t happen does it? We’re afraid it does here.


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