Sunday, March 27, 2016

Discussions on Q70

Discussions on Q70
Q70 How much does funding shift inside a TEI (eg, between courses, academics, or faculties) based on assessments of performance? Whose assessments are they, and what are they based on?

With the introduction of Colleges and PVCs at one University in NZ over a decade ago, the VC is perceived to be monitoring the "performance" of each College on the basis of the number of EFTS that it "brings in". The flow of EFTS is distinguished up to each enrolment event, i.e., (student_id, course_code, Department_code, College_code, year_semester, course_EFTS_band, etc).

From a faculty member's perspective there is a perceived notion of job-security that is mutually reinforced by most faculty members within an academic Department.  This perception, in many cases, seems to ensure that the set of all lectures delivered by each faculty member within a Department brings in about the same number of EFTS. Such egalitarian EFTS distribution usually amounts to multiple lecturers per course and a partitioning of the lectures in each course (especially with large number of students) by "specialisations" or "areas of expertise". Unfortunately this often leads to curricular stagnation and conceptual fragmentation within a course and is not usually in the best interest of the student (who now has to adapt to over 3 or 4 lecturers and their teaching styles in each course).

The "EFTS captured" by each Department is perceived to be associated with its clout within the College.  At this intra-College level of the EFTS accounting model, each Department is trying to capture as many EFTS as possible and thus implicitly discourages the flow of EFTS to other Departments. This usually can culminate to a state where each Department tries to offer its own course in a given subject. For example, the Psychology Department may offer its own course in "Statistics for Psychologists", the Maths Department may offer its own course in "Computer Programming for Mathematicians", or the Engineering Departments may offer their own course in "Fluid Dynamics for Engineers". This EFTS-driven curricula is typically reinforced by "personally validated curricula". For a concrete account of inter-Departmental EFTS-motivated dynamics see comment:
in the discussion on Q26:

The "EFTS captured" by each College is once again perceived to be associated with its clout within the University.  At this inter-College level of the EFTS accounting model, each College tries to capture as many EFTS as possible and thus implicitly discourages the flow of EFTS to other Colleges, especially when there are no explicit graduation requirements that foster true University training (learning to write from the Arts faculty, to be numerate from academics in the Maths or Stats Departments, to program from academics in the Department of Computer Science, etc).  For example, with the lack of a minimal writing requirement in a BSc degree, the potential for EFTS flow out of every Department (besides English) and every College (besides Arts) is minimised. In other words, there is no perceived economic incentive for the Head of the Department of BlahBlah-o-ology in a non-Arts College to ensure that its graduates can actually write reasonably well in English.

On a positive note, University of Canterbury (UC), one of six NZ Universities, recently introduced numeracy requirement for its BSc degree. On another very positive note UC has introduced 'employability' in one of its graduate attributes (see A focus on this graduate attribute can ensure that its graduates will meet basic writing/communicating, numeracy and possibly coding/programming requirements as expected by their employers. The following list of admirable graduate attributes: can only be truly achieved in the absence of the perceived hierarchies of various "EFTS-silos" across academics, Departments and Colleges within a University.

Unfortunately, significant cultural momentum within managerial universities also exists. For a very interesting perspective on managerial university culture see:
and for the nature and rate of general workplace bullying in NZ see:


  1. Creating joint appointments of academics across Departments can circumvent the EFTS silos by accounting for them. This is done in several top US Universities.

  2. I am a faculty member at a Uni in NZ with a similar "College-PVC Silo Model". However, in my Department the workload is not made transparent to the faculty members by the Department's Head and some of us are teaching much more than others. On the other hand, we are told that we are in the "business" of getting as many student EFTS into our Department as possible. This is often at the expense of our student's educational breadth. I did my undergraduate in the US in a Liberal Arts College. This "College-PVC Silo Model" usually leads to an 'Anti Liberal Arts' education.

  3. The structuring of university governance that has existed since the Jim Bolger government (and that one must expect was brought about through international pressures on NZ orchestrated by OECD reviews and efforts surrounding ostensible trade negotiations) was officially meant to enhance university connection to industry. (The hidden agenda was to disable the critic and conscience power of universities, and ensure that they would never again be centres of dissidence, as they had become in the 1960s.) But the official aim of enhancing university connection to industry has not been met at all. The changes have made the university act ostensibly like a business, with managers all the way up and power exerted top down, orchestrating an ever more frantic and silly concentration of people's thinking onto dollars.