Postcard from - Murdoch University

Working at a major university came as a shock, perhaps more so because I was naive.

From the outside, Murdoch appeared to be an "ivory tower" where great (and not so great) things were discussed and research carried out. The output would be degrees at various levels for students and research papers and conferences for and from the academic staff.

Well, there's not a lot actually wrong with that view, it's just woefully incomplete. Here's how it worked .. Academic staff have to publish at a rate of one paper every 15 months in an "A" grade journal, so they have to do the research to backup the publishing. They do undergraduate teaching and exam marking, and a lot of them supervise a number of post graduate students. Finally, once upon a time, the Schools had admin staff who did the support work for their school. They got made redundant as a cost saving exercise, but the work didn't disappear, so the academics shared it out and did it.

This leads to a higher stress working life, academic staff who work longer hours than you would expect and a very politically charged environment. Most of them are really nice people, very focused, but their conversations can be completely incomprehensible. And with limited and decreasing funds, politics comes to the fore and the respect starts to be less obvious.

Working in IT at Murdoch was also an issue in some ways. It didn't take me long to realise that the IT department was seen as the spawn of the devil by some people, and this wasn't always or entirely the fault of IT. IT departments are always big spenders, and the results aren't necessarily visible from the outside. So, with money getting tight, questions such as "do we really need ..." get voiced. With predictable results.

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