I’m going to sum up this post before I’ve barely started it: only pursue a career in academia if your goal in life is to fill out grant applications forms.
Academia, in the UK at least, is going further and further down the line of basing performance of academics on research grant filling stamina. Teaching, and student satisfaction are easily second and third in the list of contributing factors to the success of your academic career which I think is wrong. In actual fact these points are so insignificant in the sliding scale of your career at a university it’s almost worth not even stating they contribute to your career at all.
I’m lucky, I’m only a default academic in that I’m doing a post-doc but have no plans to pursue a career in this beyond the completion of this work, but looking on in from close up it certainly doesn’t look pretty for the future.
So what can we do about this? Honestly I think that the problem has maybe gone to far down the line for any form of redemption. However, the only people that have any chance of halting this trend are the actual students.
Students hold the power at universities they just don’t use it effectively. Their power arises from the fact that their fees pay for the running of a university. Economics states that if less students apply for specific courses then that department has less money. Student numbers are *key* to an academic department. The fewer students, less money, and less lecturers, it’s as simple as that.
If a department can correlate a reduction of student numbers to bad teaching practices then maybe something can change. Maybe this is all a bit idealistic, I don’t know.
I’m not sure if their are any social networking tools out there at allow students to rate lecturers in such a way – I expect their is. However, looking out from the inside, there use is largely being ignored if they are. Maybe someone can change this. I’d like to think so.