chapter  4
32 Pages

TAKING ACADEMIC DECISIONS

The secular trend, we have argued, is towards increasing academic self-government especially, but by no means only, on academic issues. This means that the academic staff expect to decide, without serious risk of internal veto or contradiction by non-academics, a wide range of questions which may be labelled 'academic'. These include questions like: Who shall be admitted as a student, awarded a degree, appointed to the staff, or promoted, and according to what standards of judgement? What courses will be provided, in what subjects, by whom, for whom, and leading to what qualification? and, what research projects will be undertaken, by whom, and subject to what provisos 1 Decisions on these questions are, of course, subject to over-riding constraints imposed, above all, by the availability of finance. But within these limits the power, that is the ability effectively to decide, rests essentially with the academic staff of the university with respect both to policy and to particular cases. It does not rest equally with all of them, however, nor are all such decisions taken by the same individuals or groups or by the same procedures. In this chapter, therefore, we offer a somewhat abstract portrayal of the governmental processes. We will, this is to say, focus on decision-making by academics about academic matters largely in abstraction from other actors and from other kinds of decision.