Great accademia interaction, full support from senior management.
Heavy teaching load spread across under graduate and post graduate posts.
I worked at University of Birmingham full-time
The pros are the lovely campus, with a new library and forthcoming 'green heart'. As in most British universities, colleagues are lovely. There are opportunities for funding and an excellent research office to support grant-writing. Students, although rather too goal-orientated (i.e. focused on marks rather than intellectual achievement) are good. If you play the game, and are rhetorical, career opportunities are good, especially if you are a man and are white.
In my experience, Birmingham's management is high-handed and brutal. Care for staff is minimal and to work here you need to be rhetorically minded and able to market yourself. The ability to market yourself will outweigh intellectual abilities and will get you noticed by senior management, who will then help you to advance. You will be told that your work is not good enough even if you get grants and do 4* research: it is never enough. The over-paid vice-chancellor rides roughshod over the history of the University in order to put in conservative changes which promote not intellectual searching, but conformism, a conformism which shatters intellectual freedom, devalues many subjects in the university, and devalues the multiplicity and breadth of intellectual pursuit. There is no opportunity to do unpopular research or to risk, and that means conformism. Staff at Birmingham, at least in my neck of the woods, were under tremendous stress, many had become anxious and were afraid of failing, even when excellent. Those that didn't conform are managed out. This is not an institution which knows how to nurture women's careers: the management is still largely white and male and the rhetoric is male and often battle-orientated. If you take a job here, check the status of your Department in the eyes of the management: if it is not in favour, you are unlikely to find long-term favour, however good you are. If you are not rhetorical, thick skinned and marketable, then chose another institution. The aims of Birmingham are shallow: money and status. If those are your aims then UoB is likely to satisfy you. I have moved elsewhere now, where management is humane and more trusting and the values are closer to my own.
Advice to Management
Your rhetorical tagline says you are 'bold'. Be that. The conformism to the demands of government, a government which obsessively measures falsehoods (REF does not really measure intellectual abilities; TEF is a measure of staff popularity and the turning of organisational wheels, not of real learning) needs to come second to supporting academic staff in their individual and collective pursuit of intellectual excellence in teaching and research. Strip away the rhetorical competition, which creates only mass neurosis, and strip away the layers of administration. Let academics do what they do so well: teach and research to the standards that they set themselves, which are already so high. Academics know when their work is good - but micromanaging them into always doing more, until they have no life left, will burn them out and drive the best of them away.
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