Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Η γραφειοκρατία στα Πανεπιστήμια

Δημοσιεύθηκαν πρόσφατα τα αποτελέσματα της ερευνητικής αξιολόγησης των Βρεττανικών πανεπιστημίων.

Μια διάσταση της διαδικασίας αξιολόγησης που δεν συζητείται πολύ είναι η γραφειοκρατία του συστήματος. Μια συστηματική κριτική αυτής της γραφειοκρατίας αναπτύσσεται εδώ.

Αντιγράφω τα ποιό σημαντικά σημεία της κριτικής αυτής.

The first and most obvious of these is colossal bureaucracy. Government blithely assumes that management is weightless; but the direct cost of writing detailed specifications and special software, and assembling 1,100 panellists to scrutinise submissions from 50,000 individuals in 2,500 submissions, high as it already is, is dwarfed by the indirect ones - in particular, the huge and ongoing management overheads in the universities themselves. As with any target exercise, the RAE has developed into a costly arms race between the participants, who quickly figure out how to work the rules to their advantage, and regulators trying to plug the loopholes by adjusting and elaborating them.

The result is an RAE rulebook of staggering complexity on one side and, on the other, the generation of an army of university managers, consultants and PR spinners whose de facto purpose is not to teach, nor make intellectual discoveries, but to manage RAE scores. As in previous assessments, a lively transfer market in prolific researchers developed before the submission cut-off date at the end of 2007, while, under the urging of their managers, many university departments have been drafting and redrafting their submissions for the past three years.

Meanwhile, the figures themselves can be interpreted in so many different ways that even insiders find them hard to comprehend. How many parents will know that, because the rules and ranking system has changed so much since 2001, it's difficult to identify performance trends? That departments nominally teaching the same subject may figure under different assessment panels, so here too direct comparison is difficult? That some numbers are bafflingly rounded, while from the figures given it is impossible to calculate how many of a department's staff have been submitted for the assessment exercise, and thus its "real" research strength?

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