[VIDEO] Jean Vanier speaks on the Big Questions

When someone is loved, they are transformed, reveal to them they are beautiful. This does not happen if you’ve been humiliated and devalued. A really interesting talk ranging across many topics including the Holocaust, and everyday life: discover what it means to be a full human coming from vulnerable/fragile relationships.


Value in a PhD?

An interesting piece on the ‘value’ and employability of a PhDphdgrad

Who would do a PhD? Who would willingly submit to spending endless hours, over three or four years, in the laboratory or library, racked by self-doubt and money worries, in preparation for a career for which vacancies were never more oversubscribed? …

But do doctoral students really feel prepared for life beyond the ivory tower? And how ready are they to embrace it? Here, we speak to five current and former doctoral students from a range of disciplines and universities about why they did their PhDs, what their experience was like and where they see their futures now.

Read full piece, with a couple of more positive responses 28/811/9.



Valuing Staff in Academia

Having commented on the suggestion that 9 month contracts could be introduced in the UK, there’s another piece which suggests that universities must value their staff on more than their research outputs.

Even in the subset of fields where they are viable, metrics such as grant income and citations tell you only that someone’s work is popular with their peers.

mhGv3QwAs someone who’s work would fall more into the sphere of ‘public engagement’ than anything else, it’s something I’m watching with interest. Read the full article, including

The financial case is less clear-cut for areas such as engagement with policymakers, professions, the public and enterprise. But don’t you think a department is going to be a more interesting place to work and study if some of its staff are engaged in one or more of those activities? If you agree, then value the staff so engaged. Good management requires understanding of how varied activities contribute over time to a unit’s financial sustainability and intellectual environment.


History of Value? @timeshighered

A number of US arts and humanities departments are fighting back against calls that the liberal arts aren’t worth funding as they don’t lead directly to jobs…

In response, several associations of universities with four-year courses are fighting back. The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) is aggressively advocating the importance of imparting “broad knowledge and transferable skills”. And the Council of Independent Colleges has established a Campaign for the Liberal Arts that will provide research and data to dispel stereotypes about the discipline.

“There is a new and heightened perception driving this trend that associations and organisations need to help the public better understand the value of the liberal arts,” said Laura Wilcox, the council’s spokeswoman.

The organisations contend that what employers really want from universities is not job training but graduates who can think critically, write and speak well, and solve problems.

Read full story.


University is not just about ‘getting a job’ …

I’ve always said that University is about SO MUCH more than ‘getting a job’, and the students are not ‘customers’ … this article brings that out:

Academics have been “seduced” into using business-speak to defend higher education, according to leading scholars and politicians.

Speaking at a conference titled Universities under Attack, academics called for a “fightback” in which the “neoliberal” language of “employability” and “value for money” are ditched in favour of advocating higher education for its own sake.

Arguing for universities’ economic value meant “bowing down” before a flawed conception of education, argued Baroness Kennedy, principal of Mansfield College, Oxford.

“We have to reignite the language of what education is all about,” she told delegates at the event at King’s College London on 26 November, which was sponsored by the London Review of Books, the New York Review of Books and Times Higher Education.

“The whole business of learning is about something greater – it’s not just about having jobs.”

Decrying the “marketisation” of the academy, Baroness Kennedy said: “This is about turning ourselves into businesses. We have been seduced into the idea that there is no other way. It comes out of Hayek and Thatcher being enamoured with the free market. Big money from this ideology feeds into thinktanks in education, health and welfare. Alternative ways of thinking do not get resourced.”

Read full story.