Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Academic Freedom or Brand Protection

In their history, universities have sometimes down some dodgy things they should not have done - usually accepting money derived from slavery or some such thing.

But only within the past few decades has it been possible to make a statement like this. In wishing the university to assert some control over what types of political figures some of their academics talk about a Liberal politician is quotes saying: "This is not a question about academic freedom,"  "It is about brand protection."

Universities always had a reputation to protect and this could and would impact what money they got. In the this commercial environment, that seems more precarious - and seems (and is often talked about) as a brand. The very concept threatens academic freedom, so of COURSE it it *not* about that...

Monday, 6 January 2014

University, school or college?

This one is quite great, this is the link. It is just google engram looking at frequency of words in google books. I was interested to see the growth of 'university' v 'school' and 'college',

Intellectual property, technology transfer and the knowledge economy

I don't know why blogger is extending images into the side panel. But if you can't see what I'm trying to say, try here. It is just google engram looking at frequency of words in google books. It is interesting that IP is so much higher than knowledge economy, though as Tamson Pietsch pointed out to me, it might just be that knowledge economy has come in more recently - we could expect to see the gap close as engram catches up to us, perhaps.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

End of the old world university

In Sydney in 1982, John Manning Ward penned his gloomy outlook for the following year. There was no point dancing around it: things were going to be tough and Ward planned to explain this to staff of the University of Sydney, where he had been Vice-Chancellor for almost two years. Their current projections looked like a $3.5 million deficit for the year was likely. This was not an enormous percentage of the University’s budget, which exceeded $110 million, but was more than CTEC permitted. Universities were only allowed 1% leeway in either direction, a tightrope walk at the best of times; now was hardly the best time and this was broaching 3%. Ward was not alone in his predicament. Leaders across the university system struggled as government funding declined along with student numbers.

The University’s financial predicament, Ward believed, was not really a result of declining student numbers, but rather the loss of public faith in what the university did; a result, be believed, of nothing more than bad PR. In his graduation oration that year he’d argued:
When we are misunderstood and less generously supported by governments than we need to be, we should ask, who made the gap between universities and their communities? 
It was not that the universities needed to fundamentally change, Ward believed; if only the community could really see how valuable a good traditional university like Sydney is, support would be forthcoming. Like many a Lord of an old aristocratic house facing the modern world, Ward did not yet see that real, fundamental change was going to hit universities. The old world that he knew would soon be swept aside.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Writing retreat

It is clear that I write better away from the distractions of everyday life. So I've been very fortunate that this home has been offered to me for all of January - check out the inspiring view. Wish me luck!