“UK outmoded universities must modernise”

[A rather stinky piece in The Guardian today, written by a consultant self-styled Higher Education expert… No further comments needed!]

“The reasons cited for this laggardly response [to innovations] will be familiar to any observer of the university system: an inherently conservative and risk-averse culture in most institutions; sclerotic systems and processes designed for a different world, and a lack of capacity, skills and willingness to change among an ageing academic community. All these are reinforced by perceptions that most proposed innovations are over-hyped and that current ways of operating have plenty of life left in them yet.”

3 Responses to ““UK outmoded universities must modernise””

  1. I heard a commencement talk by Professor Drew Gilpin Faust of Harvard a few years back. She explained that the university, meaning all universities, had responsibilities beyond the here and now. The university had a responsibility to the deep past, being part of civilization’s memory. The university had a responsibility to the far future, in preserving, training, and preparing. Both kinds of responsibilities take resources and they demand special rules. The tyranny of the now (my line, not Faust’s) pretends there is no need to prepare for the future, and considers the past dispensable.

    For instance, a numerical calculation that works, and solves a problem, may still be incorrect, if the maths upon which it is based are incorrect. If they are, it might serve the immediate need, but in terms of its contribution down the road, it is still a kind of dead end.

    I’d like to see Boxall have the fortitude to keep up with http://arxiv.org/rss/stat. I surely cannot, but find it exceptionally useful nevertheless. Supporting people who can, and who can teach, and can contribute new ideas seems to me to be a key component of any civilized future. What’s scary is the Mr Boxalls of the world and their supporters. Do they think these things can be simply bought?

    • Jan: thanks for the comments. Could you explain the connection with arXiv, though, as I fail to see the point?

      • I just meant that keeping up with a technical subject is demanding, countering Boxall’s claim that academics “… lack of capacity, skills and willingness to change.” It requires people who have both the ability to do so and the time. arXiv is even more demanding than the usual and still challenging array of pre-screened publications in journals, hence my point about fortitude.

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