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Saturday, June 25, 2011

“Ridiculously long vacations”?

Lord Adonis, former education minister, is reported here as saying universities should:

…just abandoning these ridiculously long vacations … That only really makes sense as far as I can see if you want to travel the world or you need to get a job…

This is to misunderstand what happens during the long university vacation – the teaching staff, who are also research staff are getting on with doing research or, more painfully, trying to get funding for research. His point is not entirely without merit: universities have a distinctly schizophrenic attitude to teaching. If, as I have, you have applied for a number of lectureship positions you will learn that the time in interview dedicated to discussing your teaching experience, aspirations and ideas is approaching zero. Status in a university department depends largely on your research achievements, not your teaching achievements. This means there is scope in the market for universities that make teaching their priority, rather than research.

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