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.
As UK universities gird themselves for publication of the first Research Excellence Framework results, Stevie Upton reflects on the difference between US and UK approaches to policy making and thinking and how academics write for policy makers – with lessons to learn for wonks on both sides of the Atlantic.
Surprisingly, ‘Managing Your Career in Higher Education Administration’ is possibly the first book in the UK covering careers in university administration. And as these careers evolve and grow in a changing sector, it’s unlikely to be the last. Paul Greatrix reviews the book and reflects on the state of the profession, how it is thought about in the sector and the pitfalls of searching for status rather than focusing on delivery and innovation.
Responding to recommendations in the latest Leadership Foundation report in to leadership and gender, Ben Tucker takes a look at his own industry – executive headhunters to unpick the experience of women in applying for senior jobs. With an unacceptable gender imbalance remaining, Ben looks at how and why people apply for jobs in the sector, as well as how panels make their final decision.
The question ‘what is a wonk?’ has come up many times since Wonkhe was launched three years ago. But in three years, understanding has come a long way. As the higher education sector in the UK has accepted if not embraced the term, there is still some clarification to be done. In this piece, Mark Leach looks at who the HE wonks are and draws lessons from other countries and other sectors.
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.
Things are changing for deputy and pro vice chancellors (PVCs) as is wider management and leadership in today’s increasingly complicated higher education sector. Sue Shepherd takes a look at these changing careers, who are occupying the posts and why it matters to universities and the sector at large.
This week I have decided to have a pop at the practice of asking students about their motivations for study in student experience surveys. It is not a particularly topical issue – but then, if we waited for some aspects of higher education policy to appear in the news cycle before talking about them we would be waiting a long time. This post is a reflection on the question of student motivation, how and why we measure it and what that says about us.
Private investment is about to boom in the UK and we need to be clear about the complex mechanisms being employed. Something bugs me about Anthony Grayling and the way he presents New College of the Humanities. Nothing is ever quite as it seems. This is an investigation into recent changes to NCH that will be of interest to anyone paying attention to the way the sector is changing behind the scenes.
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.