Bloggfćrslur mánađarins, júní 2009

Better late than never?

I found this story about recommendations for reducing the number of universities in Iceland interesting.  The recommendations from the Icelandic committee are here.  While I disagree with many of the points (in both reports) I basically agree with it being desirable to reduce the number of universities.  But I suspect that the obstacles to doing so are greater than they seem.  It is, for example, not clear to me that the standards employed by the different universities in hiring faculty are at all comparable.  So in effect, 'mergers' would result in our best universities becoming worse.  And these are potentially not one off costs because of the way hiring works in academia - bad departments tend to hire lower quality candidates.  One reason is that it is harder for weak departments to attract good candidates but also because bad departments are less able to tell which candidates are the best.  I'm sure my comments will be controversial (after all, it is worth the effort if only to bring this blog back to life) but it strikes me that actually thinking about how different universities (or departments) compare in terms of quality and how transparency can be increased is an important issue.  I consider competition between universities healthy but it only works if there are ways of telling what the score is.  At any rate, in my opinion simply closing down universities that shouldn't have been established in the first place rather than attempting `mergers' strikes me as a more reasonable strategy, which could be accompanied by increases in the budgets of the two survivors who could then compete for the faculty of the unfortunate universities. An added benefit of that approach is that the universites aren't forced to adopt whole departments whose talents/specialization may largely overlap existing faculty's specialization. Mćla međ tveggja háskóla kerfi
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