Few people would argue when I say many university academics, notably in the humanities, have an inflated view of themselves. There was a time when they were treated with awe but those days are well gone. The financially driven degradation of universities as intellectual institutions into degree factories, issuing degrees and diplomas for every conceivable activity, the majority having no intellectual dimension, were covered in my comic novel “Degrees For Everyone”.

Some academics such as AUT’s History Professor Paul Moon still command respect, in Paul’s case for his prolific output of books on a rich array of topics covering our history.

At the other end of the picture are those who appear to believe that their ultimate fulfilment lies in a television appearance.

One way to attract that is to say something perverse.

A classic example of this behaviour was, following a Times editorial calling on the Police to show less tolerance to climate protesters gluing their hands to the tar seal on major highways and causing chaos, to be arrested for causing serious disruption.

To this a Cambridge Professor, David Howarth, a man awash in academic credentials but sadly lacking in common sense, penned a letter to the Times writing world-class hogwash. I quote him so; “Using the public highway for advertising one’s political views is just as legitimate as using it for commercial purposes. One could justifiably say that much of the time vehicle drivers get in the way of potential protesters”.

Reading that garbage made me (briefly) think Pol Pot had a point in murdering all of Cambodia’s purported intellectuals.

FACT: The highways were built solely for vehicle usage, nothing else.

My company’s Scottish office is headed by a former Cambridge History Professor with impressive academic credentials. He’s in heaven, having escaped to the joys of a busy hands-on real world activity.


One Comment

Sir Bob you touch on a subject where the world – not just NZ – has embraced “degrees for everyone”. Nurses, teachers, surveyors & engineers (the latter who could usefully gain qualification by working and doing night school or correspondence. Not only that but to have the capacity i.e in my lifetime we went from 4 or 5 Universities to many. The system is completely devalued. Those deserving of a place at Uni should be the intellectual elite, not those who can afford or simply want it. I speak as one who was an engineering academic for 11 years last century, who gained entry via technical institute and practical experience qualification, but left because teaching was not valued over research, and because pressure was applied to pass sub-standard students to keep bums on seats funding.

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