Monday, 7 February 2011

What use administrators?

Economic Logician over at the Economic Logic blog comments on the problems he has with administrators who insist that he should go around applying for grants.
My administrators do not care about the impact on my research, or my welfare for that matter. They want the overhead. They are begging for money to justify their existence. I already bring lots of money to the college by teaching many, many tuition paying and public funding attracting undergraduates. In fact, from a back of the envelope calculation, my pay should double just for that. I am already subsidizing the administrators, why would they need grant overhead? They need to feed a machinery that deals with those grants. The office of research, which manages the grants, is twenty people strong. And if I hire a research assistant among the graduate students, I have to pay his or her full tuition before anything can be assigned. I cannot hire outside the university. So why would I want to hire anyone?

In some way, the administration wants me to pay for my salary through grants, a salary I have already more than earned with teaching to overflowing classrooms. To be honest, if I were successful in obtaining grants, I would leave the university and keep everything for myself. I would then be able to concentrate on research instead of putting up with all the red tape. But most funding agencies do not accept submissions from independent researchers, so I continue doing my research without grants and try to ignore these administrators. Let them show their self-importance elsewhere.
This is not just a problem at this guy's university. Sadly it's a worldwide issue. One has to ask if the growth in the ratio of administrators to academics seen in universities really has increased the quantity and quality of useful research or has it just resulted in more output of the least publishable unit? Have schemes like PBRF added to the sum total of the useful knowledge of mankind or just lead to the needless death of countless trees to feed the growth in academic journals that no one reads.

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