LETTERS: Try a school Third degree

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The Independent Online
While applauding your correspondent's realistic grasp of how to become a salaried academic nowadays (Letters, 28 July), s/he should apply similar realism to what will happen once the aim is achieved.

Anyone wanting to "teach in a university" would be better employed in a good sixth form college, where teaching students to appreciate literature, understand its background, respond analytically, and write responses lucidly, may still be a valued contribution to an English department. S/he is likely to find the reverse in certain universities, where contempt for teaching has been encouraged by academics and administrators. A permanent appointment, promotion, departmental status and funding now depend to such an extent on "publication", that anyone committed to teaching as well as research may be suspect. A vicious circle is thus set up, with departments becoming more prestigious, even as they pay less attention to teaching.

When expansion and lack of funds should have focused minds more on teaching than research, the focus has been the reverse, and that is a tragedy for young people. I write anonymously as a lecturer of 25 years' standing in a university English department.

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