Managing Universities: Dodging the Dead Cat

Universities, as organizations, need both academics and administrators. However, there has been a failure to achieve the necessary institutional and cultural adjustments to modern conditions…The most important income flows for UK universities are teaching, research and consulting, generated by the academics. Everything else is an overhead. Academics are like the partners in a professional firm.… Read More »

UK HE: Markets are good for everyone – except academics….

It seems that markets are good for higher education in England… But none of this applies to academics. They must be prevented at all costs from moving to further their careers, to get salaries that reflect their value or to escape dysfunctional managements… The REF rules must be structured in such a way as to… Read More »

Reimagining the UK Sociology Curriculum

In a galaxy not so far from here some UK sociology departments will be spending the summer considering injunctions from their university managements to internationalize their curricula….Why, then, should a student travel to the UK, or remain in the UK, to study sociology?…These are challenging times for the material base of UK sociology. If we… Read More »

Grenfell Tower: The missing social dimension of fire regulations

…Fire safety cannot be left to engineers alone. It must start from questions about who is going to be living in this building and how are they going to use it. What will it take to minimize the risks of fire starting in the course of interactions between these occupants and this building? If the… Read More »

Is there a crisis of moral values?

My latest contribution to Press TV The programme asks whether there has been a moral decline in recent years – I am not so sure…

Leadership and the UK General Election 2017

The current UK General Election campaign is marked by the way in which the main party leaders, Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May, are offering radically different visions of what it takes to do that job. In doing so, they are also exposing an important gap between the best academic research and public understanding….Whatever the outcome… Read More »

Negotiating Brexit – A Clash of Legal Cultures?

Under English law, A can break the contract with B, provided they pay compensation, sharing the extra profit they get from selling to C instead. The exact share will depend upon how much notice they can give B, what other suppliers are available, etc. From an economic point of view, this is more efficient. If… Read More »

Social sciences lose out again in Common Rule reform

Ethics regulation is difficult to get right. The protection of human subjects must be balanced against the creation of areas of ignorance, encroachment on academic freedom, a chilling effect on innovation, and paternalist denial of participants’ rights to self-determination…The results are incoherent and unlikely to reduce the mistrust between social scientists and ethics regulators…The new… Read More »

In Search of Conservative Sociology

In a recent article in Times Higher Education, Musa al-Gharbi, a fellow in sociology at Columbia University, notes the dearth of conservative faculty, students and ideas in US universities. Consequently, conservative interests and politicians see little value in any social science other than economics. Since their views are not respected, they have no incentive to… Read More »

Brexit and British Science: The cliff edge starts to crumble

The UK science policy establishment has been remarkably sanguine in the face of its government’s plans for Brexit. Some of their public utterances would do justice to Voltaire’s Dr Pangloss in assuring the research community that it will all turn out all right in the end… Much of it resembles the wishful thinking of other… Read More »