HE bureaucracy

I really CAN’T STAND these types of articles. PLEASE STOP YOU’RE NOT HELPING.

The irresistible rise of academic bureaucracy
Grahame Lock, a fellow in the faculty of philosophy at Oxford University, says that a managerial “hyper-bureaucracy” has taken hold in higher education. “Imagine that managers are going to assess the quality of restaurant meals but they have no sense of taste,” he says. “They have no idea – everything tastes the same to them. So what are they going to do? They will undertake evaluations such as how many minutes did it take for the soup to arrive at your table? How many words of explanation did the waiter use? And so on. Everything is evaluated quantitatively, so the obvious thing for a manager to do is to increase the amount of information gathered…”

Texting librarians

Librarians answer reference questions with text messages
For a student who doesn’t want to swing by the reference desk, there are plenty of other ways to ask a librarian a question—instant messaging, e-mail, a phone call. And now, on a growing number of campuses, students can ask questions with text messages. Oregon State University is among the institutions that have recently added “text a librarian” services. Though the university just implemented its service this month and has not advertised it much yet, librarians there say that they can already tell it will be well used.

Choosing a university

bestCourse4me.com – Choose the right course at the right university
Totally independent and free to use, bestCourse4me shows you the link between what people study and their employment record afterwards. … Spearheaded by the Shadow higher education spokesman David Willetts and bankrolled by Microsoft and the philanthropist and software engineer Steve Edwards.

New website gives wannabe students vital information about drop-out rates and earnings
At the flick of a switch you can find out what you earn, for example, if you study physics as against English (about £4,000 more a year, in case you wondered) and the employment rates of graduates of those subjects. You can discover how much more you earn if you study journalism at Westminster University compared with the University of Central Lancashire or philosophy at Durham compared with Bristol, and you can find out the drop-out rate from all institutions.

Twitter strategies, visualising data, managing projects

Template Twitter strategy for Government Departments
You might think a 20-page strategy a bit over the top for a tool like Twitter. After all, microblogging is a low-barrier to entry, low-risk and low-resource channel relative to other corporate communications overheads like a blog or printed newsletter. And the pioneers in corporate use of Twitter by central government (see No 10, CLG and FCO) all started as low-profile experiments and grew organically into what they are today. But, having held back my JFDI inclinations long enough to sit down and write a proper plan for BIS’s corporate Twitter account, I was surprised by just how much there is to say – and quite how worth saying it is, especially now the platform is more mature and less forgiving of mistakes.

50 great examples of data visualization
50 of the best data visualizations and tools for creating your own visualizations out there, covering everything from Digg activity to network connectivity to what’s currently happening on Twitter.

University of Edinburgh Records Management Section – advice on freedom of information, data protection and records management
The Records Management Section provides help and advice to all units of the University on information management issues including records management practices and procedures, data protection and freedom of information.  We are also responsible for the Central Records Registry and the day-to day management of the records of the central administrative areas formerly known as Policy and Planning.

University of Edinburgh Projects Web Site
A one stop source of information about University IT projects – Templates and methodologies to assist in the successful management of projects – A filing system and repository for project related documentation – A communication vehicle for keeping stakeholders informed about project progress.

Degree fraud, social teams

Diploma and accreditation mills: Exposing academic credential abuse
Take Belford University, for example, which offers bachelors, masters or doctorate degrees in 15 days based on passing an online test or an applicant’s ‘life experience’. Anyone who has spent three hard years at university will know that passing one online test is not what a real degree is about – particularly one that you can take as many times as you want. However, Belford University claims to be accredited by the International Accreditation Agency for Online Universities (IAAOU) and the Universal Council for Online Education Accreditation (UCOEA).

Using Yammer
Where a social communications tool, like Yammer, wins out, is when you want to stay in touch with the all the conversations that your particular colleagues are having. Yes, some of them will be irrelevant, but that’s just like being in the office. For a distributed team, social tools can be invaluable for keeping your finger on the pulse.

HE audits

Leader: Red tape: A form of distrust – As audit overloads academics, it also undermines their freedoms, impedes their work and damages their public standing
A scary new word to emerge in our cover story is “hyper-bureaucracy”, which describes “an out-of-control system” that emerges in the search for optimum efficiency and takes no account of the costs in time, energy and money that are needed to achieve it. It is a bureaucratic nightmare in which there is no end to the extra information that can be acquired. The monitoring of contact hours and how academics spend their time are examples of the type of bureaucracy that “eats up people and resources”, according to Andrew Oswald, professor of economics at the University of Warwick.

Audit overload – Bureaucracy is an inescapable fact of life in today’s academy. John Morgan unravels the true extent and consequences of red tape
There are those who argue that a “hyper-bureaucracy” has taken hold, tailoring universities to the needs of the labour market, coercing academics into following the rationale of business in their research choices and destroying notions of the intrinsic value of scholarship. But do academics direct their unhappiness at those who shape policy, or at blameless administrators who happen to be closest to hand? And isn’t bureaucracy necessary to make academics accountable and to ensure that public money going into universities is spent fairly and effectively?

Happy iPhones

Stanford student survey finds iPhone users hooked and happy
“One of the most striking things we saw in the interviews was just how identified people were with their iPhone,” Luhrmann said. “It was not so much with the object itself, but it had so much personal information that it became a kind of extension of the mind and a means to have a social life. It just kind of captured part of their identity.”

Mandelson’s HE cuts

Lord Mandelson keynote speech at Lord Dearing Memorial Conference
The main thrust of his speech though was about the consequences of the cuts in HE funding he had recently announced. In essence, he was uncompromising in presenting the reductions as a necessary contribution to wider public finance savings and as an opportunity to universities to reconsider their spending and help to “focus minds” on the need to seek out new sources of funding.