University leaders: how can they inspire and motivate staff?
It’s not an easy time to be a leader in higher education. Funding to universities is to be cut by £125m next year, though higher education funding body HEFCE is yet to announce where the cuts will fall. The £37m Access to Learning Fund for poorer students has been abolished. The news that student loans are not being paid back at the rate originally expected makes it likely that tuition fees will rise again. Academics, meanwhile, have been engaged in a series of two-hour strikes for more pay.
At a time of financial constraint and widespread dissatisfaction, how can university leaders continue to inspire and motivate? Vice-chancellors have been criticised by the government for awarding themselves large salary rises, but is that criticism justified? When university leaders face unprecedented challenges, including a funding shortfall, increased competition for students and regulatory pressure to broaden access, it could be argued that the job of university leaders is more demanding than it ever has been.
This is how Andrew Derrington, executive pro-vice chancellor of humanities and social sciences at the University of Liverpool, sums up the view of leaders among academics: “We are drowning them in a cascade of initiatives, processes and performance indicators. We put academics under pressure do things that are manifestly stupid. We want to turn first-rate universities into second-rate businesses.”
Read full article: The Guardian