Equal status for all academics?

Here’s an innovation. A new university recently set up in China, the South University of Science and Technology of China, has decided not to have any kind of academic hierarchy, so that all faculty have the same status. According to the university, academics elsewhere spend too much time working on career development to the neglect of their teaching duties.

Should this catch on here? Are we too status oriented? Should we embrace a new academic egalitarianism?

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5 Comments on “Equal status for all academics?”

  1. Jilly Says:

    Will they all have the same duties? Who will be Head of Department, for example?

  2. Mary B Says:

    Yes, PLEASE. What should bind together students and staff in a university is that all are studying (so might as well say we should all be students). The difference is that academics ought to be somewhat further along the path to knowledge/wisdom, and ought to be a bit better at inspiring others, or dare I say ‘leading ‘ them, as that’s the root of ‘educare’ of course! The most talented academics I have known have always been very realistic about their talents, whereas the career obsessed ones are always talking up their work. Even my academic hero, Isaac Newton, talked of himself as a small boy playing on the beach while the ‘great ocean of truth lay undiscovered before him’. Newton was never ‘Mr Nice Guy ‘ – in fact he could be downright nasty even to his friends, but for him the pursuit of knowledge took precedence over career development, and I don’t think he played academic politics!

  3. anna notaro Says:

    this is not surprising, given the Chinese cultural context where egalitarianism and collectivism have a long tradition based, among others, on Confucianism. To paraphrase Lincoln though, our university system can change but not ‘escape its history’…

  4. cormac Says:

    We have a situation like this in the IoTs – the upside is a nice democratic feel, the downside is keeping researchers motivated

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