Peter Bloody Madelson, or Mandy to his mates, that's all I can say. Whilst taking a break from my studies for a few days I have been following the plight of HE with interest, in the face of the recession. Not because I'm a doom monger or owt, more because the changes which are afoot seem great in scope and severe in terms of their implications. Cuts of £135 million to the UK HE budget, mainly concentrated at the level of teaching. Suggestions that degrees need to be even more flexible, possibly cut to 2 years in length in many cases. An increase in tuition fees proposed of up to £30, 000 a year (so suggested by one dotty don), for those judged to be able to afford it. More cuts to the financial support systems for students. And then there's the REF - don't get me started there. 10 years of expansion and progress in HE seems like to snuffed out.
If this is the taste of austerity medicine to make us all better from the over indulgencies of those flagrant bankers that David Cameron (sorry, Dave) et al say is necessary to, erm, make us a world class and flourishing country once again, I'm really not sure I can swallow it. It has been said that research will be spared from the cuts but common sense suggests that this will not be the case, Leeds University being a good case in point. I'm not trying to scare monger of, dare I say it moan, but c'mmon Dave and Brown, this is a knowledge-based economy and if people like us don't get a chance of getting our foot on the ladder, then how will we compete with the rest of the world?:-s
Hmm yep, it scares the be jesus out of me too. Thanks for the update... really don't know, I've invested so much in this now and it's so much a part of who I am, I haven't a clue how I'll deal with things if I have to take a non-academic/non-creative job. Well, i do have a clue: I'll probably feel the way I did when worked as an office manager - as though all the life had sapped out of me, and I'll end with a strange, distracting hobby at the weekends, I may become a foster parent. Actually, that would be really, really good! And now I'm smiling - the demands of academia make foster parenting seem impossible, but office work or whatever, make it more do-able. I'd be able to devote myself to caring for children in need - fabulus; well that's a late night thought anyhow. I think I'd regret not doing that as an academic, or, at least not doing it with as much commitment as I thinkk it needs. Would still be a real struggle though, to set myself up in a house etc. I think now is a good time to think about this stuff, when we're not so much on the writing/research train and in need of blind optimism to keep us going.
This is partly why I left the UK and came to the USA for my postdoc. The vice-chancellor of our uni. sent out an e-mail early 2009 explaining how these cuts would be felt hard after 2010.
President Obama on the other hand recognized the value of the 'knowledge-based economy', and in response to the recession increased HE & research funding to levels not seen since the space race/JFK days.
I was pretty much told this was on the cards as soon as the credit crunch began.
I'm looking at other Commonwealth countries, and some places in N. Europe. I've pretty much given up with uni and private sector jobs in the UK - the only jobs I'm applying for are teaching-led uni's/low ranked, but my supervisor said it wouldn't be a good career move. I also read about research-led uni's being spared the austerity measures, but I've observed a huge downturns in the number of jobs available in RG uni's over the past 12 mths.
If I can get funding, I'm even considering another research degree abroad (so as to get my foot-in-the-door). Strangely, I have got reallly good feedback on my CV from foreign contacts -- a British education must still be highly regarded internationally (I thought we had slipped).
At least we are in a profession where we have the ability to move about and work in other countries quite easily.
Emmigrating was always my post - doc plan until quite recently, just because academics were being treated so badly here,even years ago when I first decided to do a PhD. It's only since my sister died and I've realsied how wonderful my friends here are that I haven't been consdering it, but perhaps it's time to start that train of thought again. I even registered with an Australian estate agent at one point, n order to check out the housing market. I have a couple of good friends in Sydney, but I guess the work will take us where it wants to.
Yes, this is all quite sad really. I understand that the government needs to address the issue of the massive debt. And all have to suffer, okay, fair enough, but clearly it is terribly shortsighted to cut funding to unis/students/research. I am with you on this one, walminski!
I am also worried about my further career opportunities, not necessarily in getting a postdoc in "something I can do" initially after the PhD, but later on when building and trying to sustain a career in research - as if it wasn't already tough enough. So, going abroad is definitely on the agenda and I will have to consider it for longer-term, too. Shame, as I like it in the UK (originally not from here)....
You know what this means....
Even further dumbing down of degree courses so greater numbers of non-EU students can pay up and whizz through them. I'm not for one second suggesting that non-EU students don't cut the mustard, but many I have personally taught have a very frail comprehension of the language and unintelligible written work, but somehow manage to never fail a single year or even an exam $Moo$ (That is a cash cow). One nameless uni has even built an all in one teaching/living complex for the sole use of non-EU students, talk about ghettoisation.
That aside, my aspirations of 8-10 weeks holiday and a plush office to myself have been put on hold since hearing this i.e. becoming a lecturer. Instead I’m hoping for the government to stick tight to funding allocated build its “cathedral of science” (Science 11 December 2009), hopefully research away from universities will be protected in the interests of a knowledge based economy. Only time will tell...
emigrating isn't an option for me, and moving anywhere really isn't either as I'm married, have a house, my other half is settled in a good job. But I do need my own income - we rely on it, so this week i have literally been looking for anything that will keep me off the dole when my funding runs out. It seems a shame that I will probably be a doctor working on the checkouts at the local supermarket :-( or maybe I'm just being snobby about my qualifications?
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