Louise Bimpson, the Corporate Director of our Human Resources team, has moved quickly to head off any suggestion that our university might be indicted by the recent report commissioned by the Higher Education Academy that found that more than two-thirds of academics had never been recognised or rewarded for their teaching.
“Let me make it crystal clear”, she told our reporter Keith Ponting (30), “that although we naturally prize those academics who devote all their time to knocking out research articles, that in no way means we regard mere teachers as in any way second-class. Teachers are free to use the same car parks and bike sheds as research academics; and provided they don’t talk too loudly about how the present year of students is no match for last year’s intake, or drop their lecture notes all over the place, or leave chalk dust on the armchairs, they are as welcome in our senior common rooms as any research academic.”
Did this mean that teachers were given any actual rewards and recognition for excellence?
“Not actual rewards or recognition. But then at a time when universities are judged entirely by research output, excellent teachers can regard themselves as fully rewarded and recognised by one simple criterion: their continued employment.”
Exit pursued by HR
Our university will be following in the steps of the School of the Arts at the University of Northampton and carrying out a “role-matching” exercise that will compare the roles its members of staff currently perform with those it believes it needs. When this match is less than 60 per cent, then – as is the case at Northampton – “a further exercise will be required”.
In introducing the procedure, our newly appointed Head of Role Matching, Mr D. W. Subway, gave an example of how the matching might work. “Imagine, for example, that the role we want played in a particular department is that of a young, upright, research-active, go-getting, clean-cut academic. Suppose we then discover that the person who is currently expected to match this role is an elderly, stooped, research-inactive, reticent, spotty don. Hey presto. It is absolutely evident that the 60 per cent criterion has not been met, and ‘a further exercise will be required’.”
Mr Subway described the suggestion that good role matches would be greeted with a shout of “Snap” as “bordering on the facetious”.
Reach out and touch
Professor G. Lapping, one of our leading elderly, stooped, research-inactive, reticent, spotty dons, has gone out of his way to praise the work of Vida, an association for women working in critical management studies that “celebrates and enhances the rewards of academic life through friendship”. He also endorsed the more general injunction from Vida member Jo Brewis, professor of organisation and consumption at the University of Leicester: “Let us make academia kinder, more caring, more egalitarian…” This, said Lapping, was “an admirable aspiration”.
However, in an afterthought, Lapping did express mild surprise that such an idealistic sentiment should have emerged from the University of Leicester, which “never stops going on about being a university of the year and is well known for being stuffed to the gunwales with clever Dick academics who think the sun shines out of their arses”. (Professor Lapping is a liar and a cheat.)
Thought for the week
(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)
Next week’s seminar will consider ways of extracting gifts and legacies from visiting mothers and fathers on Open Day. Mark your application: Parenting Skills.