Declining attractiveness of UK academia

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individualmember
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Re: Declining attractiveness of UK academia

Post by individualmember » Thu Nov 25, 2021 5:50 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Tue Nov 23, 2021 11:21 am
plodder wrote:
Tue Nov 23, 2021 11:12 am
From an outsider's perspective academia is structurally f.cked as a career. It seems to be ego-driven, unfair, extremely precarious, driven by in-crowds and patronage and weighted heavily against new entrants. A friend spent years on part time, temporary contracts before he got tenure, and his salary is still way below what he could earn in the private sector. I don't know if this is exclusively a UK problem but I understand it's something that's got worse over the last 10-15 years which I suspect would coincide roughly with the way universities are funded. I'm willing to bet the two are linked.
Oh yes, like other creative industries it's a total basket case. The salaries are generally low, but the work is different - compare being an artist with designing adverts for supermarkets.

Things like precarity, toxicity, fairness, work-life balance, gender equity, etc etc are all serious problems, but I get the impression that many of them are worse in the UK, and backsliding, than in the rest of NW Europe. (And often far worse in the US, as you'd expect, but that seems to be the UK's lords' and masters' preferred direction of travel).
You (both) could be describing the television industry in which I make my living. It's possible to make a decent living in it, and was for a time quite progressive, but its been one step forward and two steps back for the last handful of years in that respect.

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Sciolus
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Re: Declining attractiveness of UK academia

Post by Sciolus » Thu Nov 25, 2021 8:48 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Thu Nov 25, 2021 4:32 pm
One example among hundreds - the developer's ecologist simply deny the presence of protected species, whereas independent surveys found them.
https://twitter.com/saveourwolds1/statu ... 3c3aw&s=19
Hmm. The biodiversity chapter of the ES is here. Sure enough it says they didn't find any lizards in four years of surveys (which seems unsurprising to me if the site is as wet as the protesters say, but I'm not a lizardologist. Actually thinking about it I once nearly trod on an adder while walking through a rather wet mossland, so ignore that). They did though find several red-list bird species, shedloads of foraging bats, and concluded there were "Moderate to Major Adverse Magnitude and Moderate to Large Significance" effects among others. I'm a bit wary of maligning people's professional integrity without good evidence.

I'm surprised that brown hares have low-protection status though. *Checks* Ah, considered game, even though they're a BAP species.

ETA Token on-topic comment: I thought about going into academia in the 1990s. After about 10 minutes I realised it was a crap career and the delirium passed.

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Bird on a Fire
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Re: Declining attractiveness of UK academia

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Nov 25, 2021 10:37 pm

Sciolus wrote:
Thu Nov 25, 2021 8:48 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Thu Nov 25, 2021 4:32 pm
One example among hundreds - the developer's ecologist simply deny the presence of protected species, whereas independent surveys found them.
https://twitter.com/saveourwolds1/statu ... 3c3aw&s=19
Hmm. The biodiversity chapter of the ES is here. Sure enough it says they didn't find any lizards in four years of surveys (which seems unsurprising to me if the site is as wet as the protesters say, but I'm not a lizardologist. Actually thinking about it I once nearly trod on an adder while walking through a rather wet mossland, so ignore that). They did though find several red-list bird species, shedloads of foraging bats, and concluded there were "Moderate to Major Adverse Magnitude and Moderate to Large Significance" effects among others. I'm a bit wary of maligning people's professional integrity without good evidence.

I'm surprised that brown hares have low-protection status though. *Checks* Ah, considered game, even though they're a BAP species.

ETA Token on-topic comment: I thought about going into academia in the 1990s. After about 10 minutes I realised it was a crap career and the delirium passed.
Well fair enough, perhaps. I suppose if somebody just has to build 423 houses and some shops on a greenfield site on a floodplain, it is better to have an ecologist putting in a "soft landscaping matrix" and "green corridors" than just letting some engineers concrete all over it ;)

The tweet confirmed my existing biases and I don't know the specifics of the case. But reading the bird section of that report I could just picture the site, with its whitethroats in summer and fieldfares in winter, and was getting all nostalgic for the bit of hawthorn scrub over the railway tracks where I used to bird growing up. It sounds like a lovely site, and turning those kinds of things into (mostly non-affordable) housing is the death by a thousand cuts of British nature.

Apologies for any impugnment of people without good evidence.
Last edited by Bird on a Fire on Thu Nov 25, 2021 10:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Restructured a sentence, to completion this time.
You can shove your climate crisis up your arse!

Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door.

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Re: Declining attractiveness of UK academia

Post by Sciolus » Fri Nov 26, 2021 8:03 am

Well sure. The ecologist's job (and the other specialists who write the ES) in these cases is to provide objective and factual information to the decision-makers, and to a lesser extent recommend mitigation. They're part of the system, and don't have much control over policy or the decision-making process (although they have some, especially through professional bodies), and obviously don't take the final decision which is invariably a trade-off between a whole bunch of pros and cons. It can certainly be a frustrating job.

I agree that scruffy bits of scrub are popularly undervalued; there's a similar problem with brownfield sites, which are often quite wildlife-rich, but are a more obvious target for development than agricultural deserts.

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Re: Declining attractiveness of UK academia

Post by tom p » Mon Nov 29, 2021 4:03 pm

dyqik wrote:
Thu Nov 25, 2021 4:16 pm
plodder wrote:
Thu Nov 25, 2021 3:19 pm
Woodchopper wrote:
Thu Nov 25, 2021 9:11 am


And that’s the experience of people I know as well.
Is academia actually any good at R&D? Considering the amount of people and resources involved?

eta perhaps I should change R&D to “producing lots of excellent ideas” or similar.
Good enough that private corporations and public institutions with deep R&D budgets and their own research centers spend money paying academics to do R&D for them rather than hiring them.
When it comes to medicines, academia is excellent at R, and then tiny biotech startups founded by a still-serving academic (probably the boss of the people who actually discovered that which is being Ded) and at least half-owned by the university, tend to take the pre-clinical phases of D (and even the 1st phase of D), but then generally a bigger company will step in and buy (either wholly or the rights to co-develop & market) the novel & interesting product and then crack on with phases 2 & 3 of D, which require big logistics, experience and deep pockets, and they can generally do it quicker 'cos they have the boots on the ground already doing such things.
Academia could do it, easily, but it's a question of risk & sound financial management. They shouldn't be staking the university's future on a punt that would cost maybe £100 million to see through over the subsequent 5 years and might not even come off, when they could take a guarnateed 10 million quid and a share of any future profits for zero risk

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