Former MBA students of Professor Sir David Watson share their memories of the former educator, researcher, policymaker and friend to all in the higher education sector.
Leighton Andrews, the former Welsh Government Education & Skills Minister resigned on Tuesday in a shock move. The former Minister has long been a divisive figure, hitting national headlines with his Welsh student support package, the reconfiguration agenda and his qualifications spat with Michael Gove. But despite negative headlines and plenty of arguments, the Minister has rarely been on the back foot. Indeed, he has reshaped the landscape and topography of Welsh higher education – far reaching policies that are likely to reverberate for many years to come. As we wait to learn the future of the Welsh Government’s HE policy, we look at the legacy of Leighton Andrews and his controversial policy agenda.
From ‘personality’ vice chancellors, to faltering governance structures, senior leadership teams in universities have plenty of internal challenges. However, balancing the team based on an honest appraisal of strengths and weaknesses will likely provide a solid foundation to build on.
Imagine, fellow wonks, if you will, your vice chancellor or chief executive coming to you one day to be briefed on the latest impenetrable funding council communiqué. Deciding what your institution’s or organisation’s opinion should be will involve speaking with experts and respected colleagues, reviewing research, thinking about how the media might tell the story and second-guessing your competitors. It probably includes waving a finger in the air to test which way the political winds are blowing.
It almost certainly does not involve handing the decision over to a thousand-strong student rabble with a three-day hangover. Who know significantly less than you do about any given policy issue in higher education. For a body of professionals hired and valued for our expert knowledge base, NUS National Conference must surely seem to wonks to be the worst idea ever concocted.
As student populations have diversified, progress has not been matched in leadership and management across UK higher education. Randall Whittaker looks at the dire state of diversity at the very top, shares some shocking examples of recent intolerance that he has faced on UK university campuses, and calls for urgent action to tackle this problem.