Our universities regard grants as the hallmark of achievement, rating and promoting academics for the sums they extract from taxpayers, rather than the quality of their research, by James Allen. At today’s universities there are massively too many employees who neither teach or publish but who are over-paid administrators.
This country’s universities are obsessed with grants and grant-getting. This is the science model imposed on the rest of the university. … To get promoted you need to find someone to give you money to do your research, with the most kudos coming to you if it’s the ARC (Australian Research Council) – meaning the money comes from the taxpayer.
Now let’s be blunt. If you’re in history, most parts of law, the Arts, much of Business, and big chunks of the rest of the university you can publish in top journals without soliciting a cent of grant money. Indeed spending time trying to get grants is largely wasted time, were it not demanded by university bureaucrats. And if you don’t do it, well then you will never be promoted. The universities have huge grant-getting bureaucracies that need to be fed.
Take two academics in the same area who have published in the exact same top-line, peer-reviewed international journals. Academic A gets no grants. He is, in effect, doing his research on his salary without additional taxpayer monies. Academic B, by contrast, gets huge amounts of grant money (providing work for all sorts of university bureaucrats). She produces not a jot more than Academic A. The outputs – the things that ultimately matter – are the same. So how do they fare, comparatively speaking? Academic B will be feted and promoted. Academic A will never, ever get a promotion and may be fired. This is true across Australia. It is bonkers.
The rise and rise of the bureaucrats, who in so many organizations, including private ones, outnumber and get paid more than those who do the actual work. After all, the bureaucrats are in charge of hiring and setting wages, and they know how hard their jobs are.
hat-tip Stephen Neil