A few years ago, while working in a business school, I was the academic in my department responsible for looking after PhD students. Around this time, the department dean identified international PhD students as a lucrative income stream. He hoped this might help shore up the department, since his strengths didn’t lie in securing research funding or drawing income from local businesses. An anonymous academic writes in The Guardian.
He started by aggressively recruiting international students with full fees or bursaries awarded by their country of origin, even when they didn’t have the skills to complete the course successfully. This didn’t matter to the dean – what counted was the money – and the scheme was a financial success.
Nobody cared about whether these students succeeded: they were provided with unsuitable supervisors who either didn’t have a PhD or lacked expertise in the student’s area of interest. I later discovered that some PhD students were not supervised at all. The computerised records claimed supervisions every one or two months, but the students said they took place once in two years. The quality of the work submitted at that point confirmed the students’ version of events.
I raised concerns about the practice verbally and in emails. A month later I was accused of gross misconduct (on another matter). I was accused of lacking professional integrity and taken through a shambolic disciplinary process. I received apologies but I was also advised to “shut up” about my concerns. The situation and how it was handled was devastating, and the stress became unbearable. The accusations of dishonesty were shocking and frightening, particularly as they were disseminated to other staff members.
I was off sick for a while as a result of the experience. As soon as I was well enough, I lodged grievances about the arbitrary disciplinary process against me, as well as to alert the university to unethical behaviour in the department.
Read the full article My university accepts overseas students who are doomed to fail
Money talks. Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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