The article also highlighted the grey area between work, and stuff that’s vaguely related to work but isn’t, talking of which... On Friday I read this panel discussion on the future of universities, also in the Guardian, of particular interest since Lance Fortnow was one of the panelists. Does reading that stuff constitute work? You can make the case that if you know what the future holds, you’ll serve your own institution better. Then again, you might just conclude you should get a job at Google. Anyway, the introduction to the panel discussion read:
The way universities deliver learning, see their role in society and fund their activities is changing fast. But what will HEIs look like in 2020? Join our live chat Friday 11 NovemberAnyway, to be honest, the discussion was a bit of a disappointment. I guess the warning lay in that usage of “HEI” (that’s ‘higher education institution’.) I’ve never seen an interesting passage of text that contains the abbreviation HEI. Just as slang and colloquial words serve the purpose of flagging up informality, “HEI” connotes a dreary managerialism. More seriously, I think the problem with the discussion is that it focused on the impact of political trends on universities, rather than the more interesting economic ones (e.g. the globalized academic job market, and whether China and India will produce more prospective students, or recruit more academic staff), and it also missed out on the even more interesting technological trends, such as whether the internet will take over from traditional teaching methods like lectures.