What sort of work can any academic department achieve when it is fenced into a little box with no room to manoeuvre of its own accord? Jonathan Tuckett, who is doing research in phenomenology at the University of Stirling, asks the question with regard to an appraisal of issues and dilemmas related to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) and the culture of - often imprecise - measurement and categorisation increasingly imposed upon universities and colleges.
It is widely acknowledged among those who still care that academia in the UK is in very serious trouble, says Dr Michael Marten from the University of Stirling. The most infamous embodiment of the current malaise is a mechanism imposed upon universities by successive Westminster governments: a system of ‘research assessment’ driven by an ideology of neo-liberal commodification. Alternative perspectives and mechanisms are badly needed, he says.
Why it is that so few ‘secular’ scholars engage meaningfully with ‘religion’, wonders Michael Marten. Or to put it another way: why is it that so many religion scholars depend upon and practice disciplinary heterogeneity, whereas many of the scholars they use do not appear to engage substantially with what they write?
Pursuing the topic of the role of the university in an age of economic constraint and multiple other social and political pressures, Dr Andrew Hass from the University of Stirling proposes a fourfold way of rethinking universities and their purpose beyond the restrictive, and ultimately self-defeating, parameters set by the economic and business paradigms.
The breadth and quality of education universities once offered is now being seriously eroded by underfunding, says Dr Andrew W. Hass from the University of Stirling. But funding is not where the deeper crisis lies, he suggests. Cutbacks are just the symptom of a greater underlying problem. The real problem is an identity crisis. What is 'the university' for?