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Friday, 15 April 2011


I somehow missed this piece by Peter Mandler in The Higher last week.  It's interesting, although I do sincerely hope that the title was not of Mandler's devising.  It would suggest a grasp of the English language unbecoming a Cambridge professor of modern cultural history.  I don't find much in this piece about why the Haldane principle is there.  It seems more to be asking where the Haldane principle has gone, suggesting the common misunderstanding of Juliet's impassioned cry.  Modern cultural, I suppose...

Be all that as it may, here is a less-than-entirely-convincing response to Mandler's piece, which still seems to dodge the key points made by Mandler and others.

Finally, here is Laurie Taylor's take on the situation (scroll down to 'There's no conspiracy'), which sums it all up...

1 comment:

  1. I was forcibly reminded of Iain Pears’s warnings of the coalition’s attempt to ‘extinguish all meaningful independence in higher education’ when I recently learned how Cambridge University, my own institution, plans to maximise its returns in 2013 (Letters, 14 April). There are staff whose whole lives are now devoted to working the system and we are being forced to follow suit. There is, of course, tremendous pressure to conform, not least with regard to one of the most worrying developments, the spurious measurement of ‘impact’. I have been asked to produce a pilot example of how the research of one member of my department (East Asian Studies) has had influence on the wider world and in doing so I must avoid any mention of the quality of the research. The guidelines too place a premium on presentation rather than substance. They are eloquent testimony to our betrayal of precisely the standards we try to instil in our students.

    All institutions, all vice chancellors, should refuse to play the game and submit nil returns under the impact heading, but this won’t happen because we are simultaneously pusillanimous and venal and will play the game in the hope that our own fictions will prove to be more persuasive than those of others. How can I face graduates and urge them with a straight face to enter a profession that is so easily suborned? The concept of a community of scholars has been replaced by a system designed to set university against university in a fight for what money remains on the table after most of it has been frittered away. We shall all suffer for our willingness to participate in this cynical game, which leaves our European and North American counterparts amazed at what is happening and waiting with open arms for the talent that will continue to flow their way.

    Richard Bowring
    University of Cambridge

    will you resist the impact agenda and the lies it generates?


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