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The Society for Research into Higher Education

Paul Temple


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If HR is the answer, perhaps we’re asking the wrong question

By Paul Temple

We all know that universities are, above all, people businesses. Every university depends on specialist staff to provide often complex services typically to thousands of students, some of them on a one-to-one basis. Their academic staff members are mostly expected to work at the intellectual frontiers of their disciplines, and are relied on to do so with minimal supervision. The people management issues involved here must therefore be a central concern for any university’s senior management: get this wrong, and the place is in real trouble. So the HR director has a task of at least comparable importance to her colleagues directing teaching, planning research, or exercising overall financial control. Universities are all about people, so HR has to be a key function – right?

Wrong. The analogy with finance, in particular, is tempting but false. Continue reading

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Reputation in Ashes

Rob Cuthbert – Editor, SRHE News

This editorial is in affectionate memory of policy
making for English higher education, whose
demise is deeply lamented.

The signs of decline had been evident in the recent series of policy decisions, especially the ‘Not-the-Higher-Education-Bill’ series in 2011-2013. England had claimed a dubious victory in the infamous ‘White Paper Test’ by simply telling everyone how marvellous the result would be, without actually playing the game. In the legislative series after the White Paper Test, matches were repeatedly scheduled then cancelled with nothing more to show than the odd shred of policy, until England captain Alastair Willetts finally announced that the series had been won and it would not be necessary for his team to take to the legislative wicket at all. Nevertheless he was repeatedly caught in slips without scoring… Continue reading