Thursday, February 04, 2010

mainly about cuts

I went to a university staff meeting today where our Vice-chancellor began with a presentation on funding cuts, and after he was done, I asked him which way we should all vote in the next election. It's the kind of question you ask when you've just finished marking 40 exam scripts. His response touched on the fact that the USA, Japan, Germany and France all are spending more rather than less on higher education, as part of their fiscal stimulus packages. I knew about the USA, but it's great to hear that all these other places also regard universities as part of the solution and not the problem. (added a day later): This beautifully-written article in the Guardian is a must-read for anyone who is interested in this topic!

The VC also noted that the funding formula is now allocating more weight to research that received the highest RAE rating (4*) than it previously did. It is starting to look like it is wrong to refer to "3* and 4* research" in the same breath; in reality we should all be chasing after 4* research, and disregard anything less.

Back to exam marking - no-one likes doing it, but it's nice when someone gets everything more or less correct, and you think, hey, I really got through to this guy.

On Facebook, Ulle Endriss called attention to this web site about the closure of the Group of Logic, Language and Computation at Kings College London. I would guess that the people being laid off would not get so much sympathy in the wider community, at a time when unemployment is still rising in the USA, and is still very high over here. It's a reminder that universities are not in the public sector, and are all in thrall to fiscal constraints.

Finally, a definition: meritocracy: government by people with a powerful sense of entitlement.

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