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Guest pioneer31

There seems to be a number of misconceptions about university lecturers by people who are outside of academia and have only seen the work from the outside, as a student or a parent of a student.

a) the primary activity of lecturers is teaching

false: the primary activity of the majority of academic staff is, and should be, research. This drives the teaching, the research creates the content for the lectures.

B) 18 hours lectures for a week for a student, this is nothing!

false: For each hour of lecture there are approximately 5 hours of ancilliary work, preparation of the lecture, setting and marking exams, setting up tutorial materials, and dealing with questions from students. Add this with the time taken up with administrative duties, supervision of research projects and PhD students and you have a dwindling about of time for research, which leads us to ©.

c) Lecturers get all summer for holiday, what joy.

false: because of the time taken for teaching during term time, and the huge pressures for research and publication the summer is often the busiest time of year when there is the time to try and conduct research, write papers and write applications for funding for the research.

d) Lecturers get paid well, 29-37k a year!

false: considering the number of years required for training their net lifetime income is much lower than nearly any other professional career (including teachers). Lecturers require a minimum of 6 years HE education (usually 7-8), plus 3-4 years of post-doctoral training before aquiring (if they are lucky) a lecturing post. This means that most researchers and lecturers will not be earning any 'real' money until they are in their very late 20's or even early thirties.

e) Lecturers get a great pension and early retirement

false: due to the late start of their career lecturers will have to work until very very late to get anything near the same pension benefits of another professional worker. Many university lecturers are on the same pension scheme as teachers (TPS), which requires 40 years service for a full pension. For teachers this is easy, their training times are much lower and can retire early, conversely lecturers are unlikely to get their full pension when they are kicked out at 65 or earlier.

f) 13.1% pay rise, I would take it!

13.1% over three years, if inflation (and we know what a crock that is) runs at 2% then this equates to an improvement of only just over 2% a year. This in light of the independent government inquiry that found that lecturers wages have fallen by 23% in real terms over the past 20 years.

So if the benefits are so bad, why do people do it. For the pleasure in teaching students and the feeling that you are contributing to society and scientific advancement through your research. Not everyone wants to suck as much benefit out of society so they can surround themselves with the trinkets it can offer (nice cars, houses etc.). But

good post....and furthermore, if people think teaching is such a cushy life, why don't they jump on the bandwagon?

Also, again more anecdotal evidence, I know of someone who lectures law MA, and she said that most people who lecture law are failed lawyers. So they would be in a higher paid job if they were capable.

what exactly is a 'failed' lawyer?

As I say, most are hard-working, but no more so than other workers and hence undeserving of pay rises so far ahead of other workers.

but it all boils down to how you define hard work?

if you ask 100 people if they work hard, they'll all answer 'yes'.

Many people think hard work is directly proportional to how many hours you spend in the works' building. Sometimes it is and sometimes not. Like I've already said, some people are past masters at spreading an hours work to fill a day. I've worked with these people.

Lecturers spend many years training at Uni, yet are miles behind lawyers, doctors dentists and the like in terms of pay.

Edited by pioneer31
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good post....and furthermore, if people think teaching is such a cushy life, why don't they jump on the bandwagon?

In the same way that lecturers could always go and do something else for more pay you mean?

what exactly is a 'failed' lawyer?

but it all boils down to how you define hard work?

I didn't make this point but tend to agree if the individual's objective is to earn more money - they can earn more money putting their expertise into practice.

if you ask 100 people if they work hard, they'll all answer 'yes'.

Lecturers spend many years training at Uni, yet are miles behind lawyers, doctors dentists and the like in terms of pay.

Same again - therefore why don't they just become lawyers, doctors and dentists rather than teaching people how to become them for half the pay?

What they're asking for seems excessive and will set a precedent for public sector pay. The good lecturers have very good incomes due to research and media work - seems fair to me. I admit, if it became the case that lecturers started leaving universities in droves to get better-paid jobs in industry and commerce then salaries would have to go up. But if they don't then surely salaries would be about right?

Edit: My responses are within the quote - sorry about that

Edited by mikthe20
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You could say my post was anecdotal, but as I am a university lecturer I might know something about the job.

And here's a quote from my student girlfriend:

"If the AUT really wanted to hurt the unis they would stop their research, but because that means more to them, they opted to hurt the students."

This reveals the really poor understanding that the majority of students have on how universities actually work. Like most people they focus purely upon the aspects that affect them, as such they have little to no understanding about how research is conducted (for example, students seem to think that between lectures we just sit in our offices awaiting the patter of their feet with questions).

For example, it takes on average between 2-3 years from the initiation of a research project until publication of the fruits of the research. This would mean that it would take this long for the universities to start to feel the direct effects on this strike on the output of research. A more direct method would be to withhold from making funding applications, again, the lag between application and funding is around 9 months.

The sad fact of life is that strikes generally hurt innocents. Unless you are directly involved in manufacturing or certain service industries you cannot quickly or easily affect the income streams of your employer. When nurses go on strike it is the patients that suffer first, for teachers it is the children, for train drivers it is passengers. For lecturers it is students.

But lets put this is perspective, thus far the students have had all their lectures (apart from a 1 day strike), tutorials and seminars as usual. The only real effect would be that final year students may not be able to graduate on schedule. However since this is a blanket effect, and employers will generally hire people based upon projected marks (a common practice for new graduates), the effects are generally inconvenient rather than a disaster.

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The good lecturers have very good incomes due to research and media work - seems fair to me.

It seems fair for me too. However, my OH (who is a lecturer) has a grant and the only money he can 'use' is covering his registration fee at conferences and tickets. He cannot take a penny out of his grant money to increase (e.g.) our miserable deposit.

Edited by Julka
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It seems fair for me too. However, my OH (who is a lecturer) has a grant but the only money he can 'use' is covering his registration fee at conferences and tickets. He cannot take a penny out of his grant money to increase e.g. our miserable deposit.

Exactly, another example of the lack of understanding. Just because I have a 160k research grant does'nt mean I see a penny of this money. On the contrary, under new FEC (Full Economic Costing) system of funding the UNIVERSTIES get paid for the percentage of my time I work on the research covered by the grant. The lecturers themselves do not get any direct 'value added' benefit to their wages.

Under their working contract lecturers are not allowed to draw any significant income from third party research, so you can't do some private research 'on the side' to boost your income.

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What they're asking for seems excessive and will set a precedent for public sector pay. The good lecturers have very good incomes due to research and media work - seems fair to me. I admit, if it became the case that lecturers started leaving universities in droves to get better-paid jobs in industry and commerce then salaries would have to go up. But if they don't then surely salaries would be about right?

Edit: My responses are within the quote - sorry about that

I know 3 younger university academics who have left this year to go and work in private sector jobs. The lowest pay increase was a doubling of salary, the highest nearly 4 times what they were earning working in a University. Add to this that the current generation (boomer) academics are coming up to retirement and we are faced with a serious problem, or, its fair to say a potential crisis.

The trouble with University pay, is that university senior management have a "the job pays this much, take it or leave it" attitude, and this does not encourage the best and most competent. There is also now due to the public sector spending spree, an entire administrative army in our universities. Some of these people are now earning more than the academics for non-jobs.

In a globilised economy where we are meant to be taking on all the cutting edge work, this does not bode well for the UK.

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false: the primary activity of the majority of academic staff is, and should be, research. This drives the teaching, the research creates the content for the lectures.

Interesting point about how research "should" be the primary activity.

While there is little doubt that the majority of university academics rate their research as being the most valuable and enjoyable part of their job, and while this in turn means that teaching progresses to cover the cutting edge topics, I have to say I always thought this was grossly over-rated in terms of the impact it has on students. While it means that there is a mechanism to have those most enthusiastic about a subject teaching it, I always thought that the idea that lecturers teach the cutting edge research to their undergraduates was largely a fantasy. Subjects such as mathematics and physics are so large, that it is really practically impossible to get to the cutting face of the subject within an undergraduate degree. While it is possible in the final year to skirt round the surface of these super advanced topics, the portion of a degree is pretty low I reckon.

I always thought that undergraduate teaching was in fact the main justification for universities existing. While it would probably be impossible to foster a culture in which a real working knowledge of university subjects could be maintained without research, I think academics should be more honest that it is really for that reason alone that it continues; i.e. to allow academics the intellectual freedom and stimulation they want in return for teaching the mass of undergraduates. The impact of university research on the economy is much lower than a lot of academics make out. It's sad but true. While I and many others would like to live in a world where cutting edge ideas were the ones that drove society forward, the sad truth is that most economic activity revolves around catering for the lowest common denominator.

Academics are probably not paid enough. But the unpleasant truth is that the queue of people wanting to do it is pretty big, and that means that pay simply can't be that high, because lots of people want to do it at today's low pay levels. We should value their efforts more, but that could be said for millions of other underpaid jobs.

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Don't many lecturers also earn money from published works? (genuine question).

The vast majority of research is published in journals, these do not pay royalties to the academics, some actually charge for publication rights. Books do pay royalties, but they seldom amount to more than peanuts because of the low percentage return and the relatively low volumes (selling to students). The only way to make it big is to write a popular-science book and somehow get it reviewed in the Times or something. You don't need to be an academic to do this, just need the ability to pre-chew research to such a level that it becomes understandeable to the masses, although some academic credibility can help, e.g. Steven Hawkings, Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker etc.

However, pseudo-science sells much better than science, so you'd be better off investing in a funny hat and other affectations to publicise your book on 'crystalology and healing'.

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However, pseudo-science sells much better than science, so you'd be better off investing in a funny hat and other affectations to publicise your book on 'crystalology and healing'.

Thanks for the tip! :lol:

Back to the strikes - am I right in saying that the lecturers are still being paid? If so, could they not strike so as to indefinitely suspend research? (I say indefinitely as you said that action in this area takes a long time to filter through. I apologise in advance if I didn't read your previous posts correctly).

By the way, thankyou for your thorough and informed responses - much appreciated.

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But the unpleasant truth is that the queue of people wanting to do it is pretty big, and that means that pay simply can't be that high,

Is the calibre of the people in this queue (which I am not convinced exists) of a high standard?

I'd also have to say that the research produced by universities is their primary function - teaching is secondary. I currently work in a UK university (one of the better former polytechnics), and they are prolific in the research they produce. There are currently spin-off businesses springing up all over the surrounding city as a result of this research.

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Interesting point about how research "should" be the primary activity.

While there is little doubt that the majority of university academics rate their research as being the most valuable and enjoyable part of their job, and while this in turn means that teaching progresses to cover the cutting edge topics, I have to say I always thought this was grossly over-rated in terms of the impact it has on students. While it means that there is a mechanism to have those most enthusiastic about a subject teaching it, I always thought that the idea that lecturers teach the cutting edge research to their undergraduates was largely a fantasy. Subjects such as mathematics and physics are so large, that it is really practically impossible to get to the cutting face of the subject within an undergraduate degree. While it is possible in the final year to skirt round the surface of these super advanced topics, the portion of a degree is pretty low I reckon.

I always thought that undergraduate teaching was in fact the main justification for universities existing. While it would probably be impossible to foster a culture in which a real working knowledge of university subjects could be maintained without research, I think academics should be more honest that it is really for that reason alone that it continues; i.e. to allow academics the intellectual freedom and stimulation they want in return for teaching the mass of undergraduates. The impact of university research on the economy is much lower than a lot of academics make out. It's sad but true. While I and many others would like to live in a world where cutting edge ideas were the ones that drove society forward, the sad truth is that most economic activity revolves around catering for the lowest common denominator.

Academics are probably not paid enough. But the unpleasant truth is that the queue of people wanting to do it is pretty big, and that means that pay simply can't be that high, because lots of people want to do it at today's low pay levels. We should value their efforts more, but that could be said for millions of other underpaid jobs.

I largely agree with your points, the vast majority of 'cutting edge' research is not taught to undergraduates as they would be incapable of understanding it. However, changes in understanding, approaches or applications resulting from this research does tend to 'trickle down' and can affect basic topics, sometimes quite quickly (depending on the subject).

As you say, the academics teach students to be allowed the freedom to conduct research. Both have a positive impact on society, although the degree of that impact is open to some question. The proportions of teaching to research will reflect the qualities of a particular university or department, some have as little as 26 contact hours per year, others 26 per week. The trouble is that if you reduce pay, or increase teaching then the more talented people (at the former end of the spectrum) will leave the country to find better conditions. Academics have the dubious advantage that they are forced to be highly mobile, so changing countries is no big thing. Make conditions intolerable and the best will leave, and you will be left with the universities that are little better than schools staffed with those that remain.

Thanks for the tip! :lol:

Back to the strikes - am I right in saying that the lecturers are still being paid? If so, could they not strike so as to indefinitely suspend research? (I say indefinitely as you said that action in this area takes a long time to filter through. I apologise in advance if I didn't read your previous posts correctly).

By the way, thankyou for your thorough and informed responses - much appreciated.

I have a 20% reduction in salary for taking part in the action, this is now pretty standard across most universities. How long could most people survive with such a reduction in means (as we know, lifestyle always rises to reach and exceed your means). Luckily I don't have a mortgage to service! ;)

Edited by kuurus
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Exactly, another example of the lack of understanding. Just because I have a 160k research grant does'nt mean I see a penny of this money. On the contrary, under new FEC (Full Economic Costing) system of funding the UNIVERSTIES get paid for the percentage of my time I work on the research covered by the grant. The lecturers themselves do not get any direct 'value added' benefit to their wages.

Under their working contract lecturers are not allowed to draw any significant income from third party research, so you can't do some private research 'on the side' to boost your income.

I've just caught up with this thread today and want to say a big thanks to kuurus and few others for injecting some real knowledge of what university lecturers actually do into the discussion.

Pioneer31 said "Some of the comments on this board make me realise just how CLUELESS some people are." How true.

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Well, sort of...actually 13% over three years. And the pay is dismal considering the demands made on staff. People outside academia still think it's like the 1960s - dream on, it's as far removed from that as Stagecoach is from "On The Buses".

And like Laurejon you could sack all the staff but you'll find they are about the most difficult group of workers in the whole country to replace. Try finding thousands of competent staff with PhDs prepared to work long hours for pay that city workers wouldn't get out of bed for (Rachman's secretary earns more than a top professor). The point about educating the next generation is far from trivial. Sure, let's keep academic pay at sh!te levels and see all the top staff move to the US, Canada, Australia - and educate their next generation of skilled workers.

Or maybe we don't need graduates as we can all be Richard Branson or Alan Sugar - perhaps, but they started in a different era. High tech businesses are now far, far beyond the days when 19 years olds started firms in garages. In any case people like Branson make their money by trading, not by the sorts of innovation that drive productivity and wealth creation.

What is interesting is that this group have been treated so badly by Conservative and Labour govts that they are prepared to go to these lengths to get their point across. That might make people sit up and wonder why. A number of people on this board complain about passivity and a lack of protests and demonstrations against HPI. Well, you want a house, get more pay - these guys are doing just exactly that. Want a house, strike for more pay. Seems reasonable to me.

A fantastic post - thank you! Especially your last point! Isn't that what many on this board are always advocating - that people who are priced out should organise and do something about it? What's wrong with demanding a bit of wage inflation if your wages haven't kept pace with the cost of living? Most of the people who are striking in my department are early-career and are doing it for exactly that reason - they can't afford a house on their current levels of pay. The more senior people who are striking in my department are doing it in solidarity with the younger people because they appreciate how difficult it is to live on an academic salary as a young person.

Too many "sack them all, if they don't like it they should leave" advocates don't realise that it takes 7 years or more the train an academic to basic competence in their field, and that's without training them actually to teach anyone. It probably takes most academics until their 30s to master their field and the level of professional skills needed. If all the staff were sacked today or simply left, how on earth would they be replaced? And we desperately need lecturers to train the next generation of socail workers, medical technicians, doctors, bioscientists etc. but that doesn't mean that people in those fields could walk into a job in the financial sector for 7 times the wage, does it?

Charlie - the demand was for 23 percent, not 30. Just to put that in context: in 1997 an independent government report (The Dearing report) estimated that lecturers' pay had decreased in real terms by 40 per cent from the 1970s, and at the same time the workload has increased by 140 percent. Since 1997, it has been estimated that the salary has now decreased by 50 percent in real terms from the 1970s. So a 23 percent pay demand in that context is not so unreasonable. An offer of 5 per cent per year for 3 years, which after inflation is not so much, TBH, would probably make the AUT happy. And still most young academics would be unable to buy a house even with that.

I know a lot of academics - the good ones do decent research and get a very good additional income from books, lecture tours, TV appearances and consulting. The ones poorly-paid often (NOT ALWAYS!) are either early in their careers or can't be bothered to really work at their research and get books published. Not only is good research in the interests of the society and the university in terms of reputation, but it can provide a good additional income.

These are very good and talented people on the whole, along with the splattering of wasters that you get in any organisation, but I see no reason why they should get a 27% pay rise.

I have no time for arguments that say they work longer hours than other people - rarely see lecturers in on a Friday for example.

Hello, where are all these lecturers you know who make their income from books and lecture tours? Does your social circle consist entirely of David Starkey, Simon Schama and Richard Dawkins? Cos they are the only three people in UK academia (pretty much) who live like you've suggested.

FOR THE RECORD - academic books, ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY, bring in NO income to the person who writes them. We do not get any royalties or advances for academic books. You are living in dreamland if you think most academics (apart from the one who "can't be bothered to really work at their research and get books published" :blink: ) have ANY income from books. Oh, or those famous lecture tours and consulting (I often hear of my colleagues working in fluid dynamics or social work or materials science making large sell-out lecture tours of the US - oh, sorry, no, actually I don't.)

I am in working this Friday evening, along with most of my colleagues, in fact. It's quite chummy here this evening. Admittedly I'm on HPC, but I have been working all day until 7, so I felt I deserved an hour or so off, especially as I will be working solidly through this weekend :angry:

And here's a quote from my student girlfriend:

"If the AUT really wanted to hurt the unis they would stop their research, but because that means more to them, they opted to hurt the students."

NO - this is a huge misconception. Because most academics are hired on their research, and research in most disciplines is not collective but individual, stopping research would only have the effect of harming the careers of individual academics, and disproportionaly those of younger untenured staff, who are the very ones who are most underpaid and have the worst employment situations. The ENTIRE POINT of any strike is the withdrawal of meaningful labour - and this of necessity has to be something that affects the employer where they need it most. Sorry, but this is the only way to get UCEA to do something. Your girlfriend's point is a fundamental misunderstanding of how universities work and what the point of strike action is.

Edited to say: I see kuurus has already made this point now I read the rest of the replies - thank you kuurus!!

Don't many lecturers also earn money from published works? (genuine question).

NO.

Edited by Zaranna
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Trade Unions are not destroyed, if they were we would not be seeing the Pips playing croquet!!.

The Trade Unions in the past were a disgrace, and hardly represented their members so I am glad she axed as much of them as possible. I do think they have a place, but not in discussing issues about education in Israel, or Lesbian awareness. The should be asking themselves why they backed their members jobs to go offshore, but saved their own skins!!!.

University Lecturers going on strike day!!

They actually decided the best time to act was during exam season.

So on that basis, I would fking sack the lot of them, all communists, all extremists in my book.

Margaret... is that you?

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Guest pioneer31

There is also now due to the public sector spending spree, an entire administrative army in our universities. Some of these people are now earning more than the academics for non-jobs.

so, so true....and tragic as well.

In my fathers college, the admin staff grew to such a size that they outnumbered the teaching staff. Lots of fancy named jobs and people floating round the building with bits of paper in their hand, going to meetings and god knows what else.

After a while, you start to wonder what the purpose of the college actually is.

good post....and furthermore, if people think teaching is such a cushy life, why don't they jump on the bandwagon?

In the same way that lecturers could always go and do something else for more pay you mean?

Some lecturers can, and do, go and get more pay in industry. I very much doubt the whingers about 'cushy teaching jobs' could uproot from their brain dead job to go and teach. That's why I asked the question.

if you ask 100 people if they work hard, they'll all answer 'yes'.

Lecturers spend many years training at Uni, yet are miles behind lawyers, doctors dentists and the like in terms of pay.

Same again - therefore why don't they just become lawyers, doctors and dentists rather than teaching people how to become them for half the pay?

Where do you stop with that particular argument?

Nurses moaning about pay should become doctors. Doctors moaning about pay should become consultants. Bus drivers moaning about pay should become train drivers........and so on.

It could go on forever

Edited by pioneer31
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I can’t resist adding my comments to this thread! I worked in industry for 5 years and then returned to work as a researcher and then lecturer. I can honestly say they were the best years of my life, despite the low wage. There are a few points that need correcting:

Is research is the primary reason for universities? Categorically no. The whole point of universities is to educate and enrich young minds. Some people posting here give the impression they are working at MIT and not the average university in Britain. The facts speak for themselves when you look at the world rankings for universities. The highest concentration of talent resides in American universities, relatively few work for universities in the EU zone (there is a reason for this which I’ll come back to). The low ranking is proof that most research done in British universities is very average with perhaps the exception of Imperial College, and Oxbridge. Of course, there are pockets of excellence, and I was lucky to work in one, but they are defined at the department and in some cases individual level. Would a slew of average research papers and reports encourage HMG to give billions to universities? Of course not, the whole purpose of giving lecturers the privilege of spending half their year thinking is to enable them to gain a deep understanding of a subject so that they become effective teachers of the latest knowledge in their field. Few lecturers have the brilliance of say Noam Chomsky, however, most get to the point where they can give students enough education to walk alone. Where would be without them? The UK is critically dependent on engineers, scientists, mathematicians etc who ensure your bridges don’t fall down, your lights turn on and your medicines don’t kill you.

I was amazed when I looked that the world university rankings published by the Times and a Chinese education body. We all have a tendency to think British is best, but this simply is not true. The rankings are determined by the quality and quantity of research produced by each college. At first I thought the reason was simple. US universities tend to be bigger and can selectively offer better terms to the best thinkers and hardest workers around the world. But that’s not the whole of it, there is a different framework for academics here in the USA and it encourages enterprise in a way that is absent in the UK. The fact is there are thousands of hacks hidden in the UK system which insists on paying a humanities lecturer that same as a engineer, worse still lecturers at low ranking universities are paid the same as those at the top end. I realize there are top-up payments but the level of reward is an insult to the brightest. The system has no concept of value added and refuses to change. For that reason alone I would argue their should be nothing more than inflationary pay rises. Why? For the simple reason it will force a crisis and with that radical change. Lecturers should be paid in proportion to the demand for their most valuable product which is new fired up brains, not average research, most of which is something old dressed as something new.

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I can’t resist adding my comments to this thread! I worked in industry for 5 years and then returned to work as a researcher and then lecturer. I can honestly say they were the best years of my life, despite the low wage. There are a few points that need correcting:

Is research is the primary reason for universities? Categorically no. The whole point of universities is to educate and enrich young minds. Some people posting here give the impression they are working at MIT and not the average university in Britain. The facts speak for themselves when you look at the world rankings for universities. The highest concentration of talent resides in American universities, relatively few work for universities in the EU zone (there is a reason for this which I’ll come back to). The low ranking is proof that most research done in British universities is very average with perhaps the exception of Imperial College, and Oxbridge. Of course, there are pockets of excellence, and I was lucky to work in one, but they are defined at the department and in some cases individual level. Would a slew of average research papers and reports encourage HMG to give billions to universities? Of course not, the whole purpose of giving lecturers the privilege of spending half their year thinking is to enable them to gain a deep understanding of a subject so that they become effective teachers of the latest knowledge in their field. Few lecturers have the brilliance of say Noam Chomsky, however, most get to the point where they can give students enough education to walk alone. Where would be without them? The UK is critically dependent on engineers, scientists, mathematicians etc who ensure your bridges don’t fall down, your lights turn on and your medicines don’t kill you.

You make some very good points, but I don't agree with you that the whole point of universities is to educate. I really think it's a mistake to try to identity a "primary purpose" for universities. They serve multiple functions in society. Teaching, researching, communicating, analysing. On a personal level, I chose my current college not only on the strength of the syllabus, but the fact that they are very engaged in cutting edge research. It all feeds back.

I was amazed when I looked that the world university rankings published by the Times and a Chinese education body. We all have a tendency to think British is best, but this simply is not true. The rankings are determined by the quality and quantity of research produced by each college. At first I thought the reason was simple. US universities tend to be bigger and can selectively offer better terms to the best thinkers and hardest workers around the world. But that’s not the whole of it, there is a different framework for academics here in the USA and it encourages enterprise in a way that is absent in the UK. The fact is there are thousands of hacks hidden in the UK system which insists on paying a humanities lecturer that same as a engineer, worse still lecturers at low ranking universities are paid the same as those at the top end. I realize there are top-up payments but the level of reward is an insult to the brightest. The system has no concept of value added and refuses to change. For that reason alone I would argue their should be nothing more than inflationary pay rises. Why? For the simple reason it will force a crisis and with that radical change. Lecturers should be paid in proportion to the demand for their most valuable product which is new fired up brains, not average research, most of which is something old dressed as something new.

I agree our system makes it hard to attract and keep good people - although we still have a few! Having said that, just remember that there have been academics who have published very little for a very, very long time, and eventually published something world changing. There have been others who publish in every journal they can and are essentially a waste of space. I know that the RAE assessments have probably done little to increase the instrinsic value of research undertaken, and have done a lot to increase its volume. The problem is in judging the worth of having people with intelligence and time to think. IMHO, a vast simple minded beurocracy cannot be competent to do that - but how can it work here? Lot's of money would clearly help, but that doesn't seem to be forthcoming.

I also fear that the pressure to produce commercially useful research will dilute pure research. The simple truth is that some of the most powerful ideas and useful ideas we have today were thought to be little more than intellectual curiosities in their own time. It would be so easy to kill the golden goose.

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