January 27, 2017

Government Bullying: EU academics in Britain told to ‘make arrangements to leave’

Some EU citizens living in Britain who decided to seek permanent residency after the Brexit vote are being told to make arrangements to leave. A number of these people are among the 31,000 EU academics currently working in UK universities. Colin Talbot says many are alarmed and some have already decided to leave – putting the expertise of Britain’s universities in serious jeopardy.

“The UK’s university sector is one of our most valuable national assets,” Prof Brian Cox, the University of Manchester academic and TV presenter, told me last week. He argued that UK higher education “is a genuinely global industry generating billions of pounds in export earnings, one of the necessary foundations of our innovation-led economy and perhaps our strongest soft power asset; political and industrial leaders from all over the world were educated here in the UK.”

Which makes it all the more strange that the government should be – whether accidentally or deliberately – undermining them. Most of the Brexit commentary about UK universities has concentrated on issues of funding, research cooperation and students. Much less attention has been paid to what keeps universities running – academic staff – and what Brexit will mean for the 30,000-plus EU academics in the UK.

I arrived at a meeting a couple of weeks ago and noticed one of my academic colleagues was visibly distressed.

When I asked what was wrong, they said they’d just had a very alarming letter from the Home Office. Having lived and worked here for more than two decades (they’re a national of another EU country) they decided to play it safe after the Brexit vote and apply for leave to remain. Big mistake.

They received a threatening letter from the Home Office saying they had no right to be here and they should “now make arrangements to leave”. The letter was obviously wrong – they had every right to be here under existing UK law – but that didn’t lessen the emotional impact for my colleague, whose whole future was suddenly thrown into uncertainty.

I had read similar stories in the press, and wondered how many other academics might be affected, so I turned to Twitter to ask for any similar experiences. The tweet I posted asking for examples was retweeted – mostly by concerned academics – over 1,000 times. People started writing to me with cases and I began digging into the issue.

The first thing that struck me was the level of fear, anger and disgust – and in some cases resignation. I have disguised individual cases – that’s because few people are willing to speak openly, such is the degree of fear about what might happen after Brexit.

The impact on individuals

Some EU academics (along with others) who have been living and working legally in the UK for years decided, after June 23, that they should try to cement their position by applying for one or other of the various routes to permanent residency. The procedures are daunting and of Kafkaesque complexity – one form runs to 85 pages and requires forms of proof that make acquiring Catholic sainthood look simple. As a result many applications are failing – but it is the form of the rejection that is causing much concern. A typical letter from the Home Office says (in part):
“As you appear to have no alternative basis of stay in the United Kingdom you should now make arrangements to leave. If you fail to make a voluntary departure a separate decision may be made at a later date to enforce your removal…”
This appears to be a fairly typical ‘prepare to leave’ letter, variations on which have been sent to “failed” applicants – even though they are currently here perfectly legally.

Even more worryingly, the decision on whether to accept or reject these applications is based on the “Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 and Regulation 26 of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006”, to quote the letter again. The latter will be repealed in the Great Repeal Bill planned by the government, which could rescind any ‘right to remain’ granted under existing law and regulations.

Brian Cox sums up the situation very well when he told me:
“We have spent decades – centuries arguably – building a welcoming and open atmosphere in our universities and, crucially, presenting that image to an increasingly competitive world. We’ve been spectacularly successful; many of the worlds finest researchers and teachers have made the UK their home, in good faith. A few careless words have already damaged our carefully cultivated international reputation, however. I know of few, if any, international academics, from within or outside the EU, who are more comfortable in our country now than they were pre-referendum. This is a recipe for disaster.”
Another academic colleague said: “As an academic I’m embarrassed and ashamed of [the] UK governments’ stance on EU citizens.”

One academic told me: “the Home Office is hedging its bets because we non-UK [academics] are now effectively hostages …”. A neuroscientist from the EU at a top UK university reacted with defiance: “For what is worth, I refuse to apply for a piece of paper [leave to remain] that I don’t need and won’t be valid after Brexit – when current law says I don’t need it. It’s just a certificate. They can stick their 85-page form up their arses.”

The level of anxiety is obvious: “I’m about to submit my permanent residency application. Any pointers from the rejections you’ve seen so far? Scary times ahead…”. Another said: “as an Irish citizen I am assuming the Ireland Act will continue to provide my right to be here. But… “
A policy specialist from Oxford said “people have been turned down for administrative reasons alone. The Home Office looks for any reason to say ‘no’ at the moment.” Or as another, retired, academic puts it, this is just “inhuman bureaucracy” at work.

How representative is all this? A recent survey of academics conducted by YouGov for the University and College Union (UCU) found that an overwhelming majority (90%) said Brexit will have a negative impact on UK higher education. Three-quarters (76%) of non-UK EU academics said they were more likely to consider leaving UK higher education. A third (29%) said they already know of academics leaving the UK, and over two-fifths (44%) said they know of academics who have lost access to research funding as a direct result of Brexit.

The impact on universities

UK universities are heavily dependent on academics from the EU. To cater for our global audience we need to attract the brightest and best and Europe is, unsurprisingly, a major source for such talent. Over 31,000 UK university academics come from the EU – sixteen percent of the total (all figures calculated from the Higher Education Statistics Agency data for 2014/15).

But this national figure underestimates just how important EU academics are to our top-rated universities. The London School of Economics has 38% EU academic staff. Other prominent London colleges – Imperial, King’s, University College London – have between a quarter and nearly a third. Oxford has 24% and Cambridge 22%. My own university, Manchester has 18% and most of the Russell Group of ‘research universities’ are in the top ranks of EU academic staff employers.
EU academics are equally important in the core subject areas that are vital to our long-term economic health. So areas like physics (26%), chemical engineering (25%), biosciences (22%), chemistry (21%) and IT (20%) are all heavily reliant on European talent.

So what?

Our global status isn’t, of course, just dependent on EU academics – UK experts are our bedrock (70%) – but the other 30% that come from the EU and the rest of the world are an important part of our global status.

Losing this talent – whether through demoralisation or deliberate design – would have catastrophic effects. As Brian Cox puts it: “Ministers must consider our global reputation before uttering platitudinous sound-bites for domestic consumption, and think much more carefully about how to ensure that the UK remains the best place in the world to educate and to be educated. [UK Universities] are everything the government claims it wants our country to become; a model for a global future.”

“The current rhetoric is the absolute opposite of what is required. The UK appears, from outside, to be increasingly unwelcoming and backward looking”.” They should be even more careful about the policies they enact and the way they are implemented...

More at: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2017/01/27/eu-academics-britain-told-to-leave/

January 20, 2017

Idealized, Devalued, Dumped, Discarded - Narcissist's Approach-Avoidance Cycles

The quality and reliability of Narcissistic Supply are, therefore, of paramount importance. The more the narcissist convinces himself that his sources are perfect, grand, comprehensive, authoritative, omniscient, omnipotent, beautiful, powerful, rich, brilliant, and so on -- the better he feels. The narcissist has to idealise his Supply Sources in order to highly value the supply that he derives from them. This leads to over-valuation. The narcissist forms a fantastic picture of his sources of Narcissistic Supply.

The fall is inevitable. Disillusionment and disappointment set in. The slightest criticism, disagreement, or differences of opinion are interpreted by the narcissist as an all out assault against the foundations of his existence. The previous appraisal is sharply reversed: the same people are judged stupid who were previously deemed to possess genius, for instance. 

This is the devaluation part of the cycle and it is very painful to both the narcissist and the devalued (for very different reasons, of course). The narcissist mourns the loss of a promising "investment opportunity" (Source of Narcissistic Supply). The "investment opportunity" mourns the loss of the narcissist...


British universities employ no black academics in top roles, figures show

No black academics have worked in senior management in any British university for the last three years, according to employment records.

Figures published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency record no black academics in the elite staff category of “managers, directors and senior officials” in 2015-16 – the third year in a row that this has happened.

Among the 535 senior officials who declared their ethnicity, 510 were white, 15 were Asian and 10 were recorded as “other including mixed”. Thirty senior academics either refused or failed to record an ethnicity.

The figures also show universities employ more black staff as cleaners, receptionists or porters than as lecturers or professors.

David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham and a former higher education minister, said: “This is absolutely shocking. I am appalled that higher education is so deeply unrepresentative of the country.

“Universities talk about widening participation and fair access but the complete lack of diversity in senior positions sends out an absolutely dreadful message to young people from ethnic minorities who find themselves wondering whether university is for them or not.”

More info at: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/jan/19/british-universities-employ-no-black-academics-in-top-roles-figures-show

January 13, 2017

A living nightmare - 'Prof' Platon Alexiou... Part 2

'Prof' Platon Alexiou
On page 2 of his CV the following appears:

On page 7 the same paper appears but this time it lists 'Prof' Platon Alexiou as the first author:

However, a basic search on Google using the title of the above paper reveals that Professor Ioannis Michaloudis is the only author of this paper (below). 'Prof' Platon Alexiou is not listed or described either as a 'collaborator' or a co-author...

December 31, 2016

Universities under fire for gagging former employees

Lib Dems say more than 3,500 higher education staff have signed compromise agreements in the past five years.

London Metropolitan University has signed settlement agreements with 894 staff since 2011/12.

Universities have been accused by the Lib Dems of stifling free speech through the use of “gagging clauses”, after the party’s research found more than 3,500 former staff members in higher education have signed “compromise agreements” in the past five years.

Freedom of information requests show that 48 universities have paid out £146m in severance cash to former staff members over the past five years and 3,722 people were asked to sign compromise or settlement agreements, which usually contain confidentiality clauses.

The highest number of such agreements was signed by London Metropolitan University, with 894 agreed since 2011/12. Others with high figures over the past five years include the University of Exeter with 346, Cambridge University with 237, and the University of East London with 184, out of the 48 universities that replied to the Lib Dem requests under transparency laws.

Responding to the figures, Tim Farron, the Lib Dem leader, said the use of confidentiality clauses in compromise agreements by universities was not appropriate.

“Universities are supposed to be bastions of free speech and forthright opinions, yet our research has shown that confidentiality clauses may have been used not only to avoid dirty laundry being aired in public but now are just common practice in higher education,” he said.

“This is simply outrageous. These gagging orders have a deterrent effect, employers seem to think that employees will just sign away the right to whistleblow.

“The cold wind of gagging staff and stifled debate, much in the public interest, is going through the halls of our bastions of enlightenment and tolerance. This must end, these practices must be stopped.”

Their use was defended by a number of the universities. A spokesman for London Metropolitan University said it was “common practice in higher education, and other sectors, to include compromise agreements in any voluntary redundancy settlements made”.

“Compromise agreements are recognised by statute, and the standard form of severance agreement from Acas includes an optional non-disclosure and confidentiality clause,” he said. “It is important to point out that such clauses do not prevent the individual from making a protected disclosure under whistleblowing legislation.

“A confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement is a standard element of voluntary severance agreements principally because almost all university staff will have had access to personal and private student data which universities have an obligation to protect from disclosure.

“Universities often have to make redundancies for a range of reasons, from the need to adjust to changing student numbers to the closure of courses with low demand or which do not meet the high standards of quality we expect.”

A University of Exeter spokesman said: “During the past five years the University of Exeter’s professional – non academic – services have been restructured to make sure they meet our future needs.

“Settlement agreements were used in these cases when staff left on a voluntary basis with enhanced terms. This is standard practice as part of employment law and protects personal information.

“The University of Exeter is a friendly and supportive workplace, where openness is actively encouraged. There are many mechanisms for staff to raise concerns confidentially.”

A spokeswoman for Cambridge University said: “The University of Cambridge takes pride in its ability to recruit, retain and support its staff. Like any large employer, our people leave the university for a variety of reasons and we are committed to fair and proper processes that respect those individuals.”

Dusty Amroliwala, deputy vice-chancellor at the University of East London, said some staff had been offered voluntary severance as part of restructuring programmes.

“Such voluntary programmes represent good employment practice and are often agreed in advance with the trade union side,” he said. “Compromise agreements provide a legally safe means of bringing to a formal end the relationship between a member of staff and the employer. They protect the interests of both parties to the agreement and are entered into on a voluntary basis.

“Compromise agreements are not drafted to prevent discussion about general failings that might impact on students. Such failings, were they to exist, would normally be in the public domain before the departure of any particular member.

“The university does not adopt clauses in such agreements to prevent the discovery of any specific failing. Rather, it does so to avoid any ad hominem comment. The university is a strong supporter of the practice of free speech. It also recognises the importance of ensuring that appropriate safeguards are in place to protect both parties to a confidential agreement.”

The use of compromise agreements in the higher education sector appears to be much higher than in the NHS. The Lib Dems also collected figures for compromise agreements in the health service, which showed they have been used 439 times over the past five years by 44 trusts which paid out £73m in severance payments.

The highest users out of the trusts surveyed showed around 10 per year being agreed with former staff members.

The Department for Education said it was a matter for the employment practices of universities as businesses, while the Department for Health said it has written to all trusts to remind them of their legal obligations.

“We want the NHS to be the safest and most transparent healthcare system in the world,” a Department of Health spokesman said. “A departing employee should never be prevented from speaking out in the public interest where they have genuine concerns – but it’s wrong to say settlement agreements undermine that. We have written to all trusts to remind them of their legal obligations.”

From: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/dec/30/universities-gagging-former-employees-lib-dems-compromise-agreements

December 25, 2016

The curious preference for low quality and its norms…

Kakonomics, or the strange preference for Low-quality outcomes
The curious preference for low quality and its norms…
L-doers segregate themselves in mutual admiration societies…
A conceptual space similar to “amoral familism”…

…We investigate a phenomenon which we have experienced as common when dealing with an of Italian public and private institutions: people promise to exchange high quality goods and services (H), but then something goes wrong and the quality delivered is lower than promised (L). While this is perceived as ‘cheating’ by outsiders, insiders seem not only to adapt but to rely on this outcome. They do not resent low quality exchanges, in fact they seem to resent high quality ones, and are inclined to ostracise and avoid dealing with agents who deliver high quality… They develop a set of oblique social norms to sustain their preferred equilibrium when threatened by intrusions of high quality. We argue that cooperation is not always for the better: high quality collective outcomes are not only endangered by self-interested individual defectors, but by ‘cartels’ of mutually satisfied mediocrities…

We have spent our academic careers abroad, Gloria in France and Diego in Britain. Over this long period of time each of us has had over a hundred professional dealings with our compatriots in Italy – academics, publishers, journals, newspapers, public and private institutions. It is not an exaggeration to say that 95% of the times something went wrong. Not catastrophically wrong, but wrong nonetheless. Sometimes what goes wrong is timing, things do not happen when they are supposed to happen. Or they happen in a different form from that which was planned or are simply cancelled. Workshops have twice or half as many people as one was told to expect, the time allocated to speak is halved or doubled, proofs are not properly revised or mixed up, people do not show up at meetings or show up unannounced, messages get lost, reimbursements are delayed, decreased or forgotten altogether. This experience now extends to internet dealings: relative to those in other countries, Italians websites are scruffier, often do not work properly, remain incomplete or are not updated, messages bounce back, e-mail addresses change with dramatic frequency, and files are virus-ridden.

…Two persons agree to trade some units of good x for some units of good y (goods is to be intended in the most generic sense, and to include intangible resources; x and y can also be the same ‘good’ as when two people agree to meet, the good being showing up at a given place at a given time). Assume for simplicity that goods can be produced at two levels of quality, High (H) and Low (L). H is both more rewarding to receive and more costly to produce than L; H takes more time, effort, skills and organisation. This excludes goods that have only one level of quality – if one pays to have someone murdered, one will regard a non-lethal wounding as a failure to deliver.

There might be domains in which H-ness is undefined, such as an intellectual contribution to a theory which cannot even be proven wrong, or art and fashion in which the lack of objective criteria of quality make H unfathomable. We will limit ourselves to consider cases in which the criteria to establish H-ness are not controversial…

Problems arise if the two individuals agree on H but one of them delivers L. This is, of course, a risk of many exchanges: rational, unprincipled and self-interested agents prefer to dish out L rather than H, while at the same time, one would think, they also prefer to receive H rather than L. Dishonest second-hand car dealers prefer to sell a lemon while charging an H-price. This happens often enough. And it is what happened to us many time. We delivered H and got L, the sucker’s payoff. One of us has now become very cautious before dealing professionally with his old compatriots while the other has started to dish out the occasional L herself…

Our impression, however, is that when the type of Italians we encounter deal with one another, there is no great tension over these mishaps: both parties agree on H and both deliver L. On the face of it, it looks as if they sell each other a lemon, and yet:

• Nobody seems to complain.

• When we got L in return for giving H and complained, the L-party seemed more annoyed than apologetic. They seem to treat this as excessive fussiness.

• H-doers do not seem to receive much admiration, quite the contrary, they elicit suspicion. As an Italian university ‘barone’ once put it, “You don’t understand Diego, when you are good [at your work] you must apologise”.

• ‘Italians’ end up in LL even if they are playing a repeated game and plan to trade with each other in the future. In other words, they are not deterred from dealing with each other again and do not expect the other party to be deterred by getting L.

• They do not abandon the H-rhetoric, and, more or less explicitly, keep promising high standards.

• A feeling of familiarity develops among L-doers: L-prone people recognise other L-prone people as familiar, as ‘friends’.

…to the raw payoffs of free-riding we must prefer to avoid the embarrassment of being seen as a free-rider or the discomfort of being made to feel of inferior quality or both – emotions that would be triggered if the other party gave us H while we saddle them with L. By contrast, when both parties tacitly accept a “discount” they are not cheating each other. Rather, they are entering a relation whose advantages for each depend on the reciprocal tolerance of L-ness. Not only you want pressapochismo for yourself, you also want it in others.

…we need to have some prior knowledge, obtained either through direct experience or vicariously, that “this is how things work”; in other words we need to expect both that our partners in the exchange are, say, likely not to pay as well or as promptly as they say they will, and, on the other hand, that they are not likely to resent it if we fail to deliver a perfect H…

…In one respect, the type of person who prefers LL to LH is like the types with the other two preference rankings: they all prefer to put less effort in what they do and deliver L rather than H. None of them likes to do H for its own sake. But in another respect the type that prefers LL to LH is different for he is not the purely self-interested individual, the one who always prefers H for himself regardless of other people’s feelings and judgments, but, while equally ‘lazy’, our L-doer is a “pro-social” type who, to the advantage of maximizing purely his interests (LH), prefers a mediocre payoff provided that he does not suffer embarrassment or discomfort (LL). They dread being the only sinner around.

One-off encounters may suffice to set off these emotions and make L-doers happier to receive an L even from a stranger. Naturally, if the two parties are not interacting just once and envisage a string of future exchanges, the potential force of these negative emotions could intensify. If we dislike being made to feel that we are exploiting a stranger, we would dislike even more to be seen to be exploiting a familiar person…

When these conditions obtain, people expect rather than just accept a certain amount of L-ness. Usually, if one promises to deliver H and delivers L instead, one would think of this as a breach of trust. But in our case it looks as if they rely on each other not to be entirely trustworthy, they trust their untrustworthiness. Not only do they live with each other’s laxness, but expect it: I trust you not to keep your promises in full because I want to be free not to keep mine and not to feel bad about it. There seems to be a double deal: an official pact in which both declare their intention to exchange H-goods, and a tacit accord whereby discounts are not only allowed but expected. It becomes a form of tacit mutual connivance on L-ness…

It follows that L-doers will try to establish the – perverse – trustworthiness of others with whom they are considering to interact. They will look for signs of L-ness and select as partners only those that emit credible ones. And, for their part, L-doers will endeavour to signal their L-ness to persuade other L-doers of their trustworthiness. Anyone who gives an indication of liking H-ness, of not being a committed L-doer, will be shunned. We can expect that L-doers will try to avoid dealing with H-doers…

…A major problem of selecting people for their L-trustworthiness is that the most credible signs of it are emitted by those who not only choose L as a strategy and could under different conditions revert to H-doing, but by those who can only do L: the best way to persuade others that one is lax and incompetent, and thus a good ‘friend’, is not by pretending but by truly being lax and incompetent – by being a genuine L-type. This contributes to the inverse meritocratic selection, a phenomenon sadly rife in Italy. The custom police secretly recorded the conversations between Paolo Rizzon, chair of cardiology in Bari, and other colleagues involved in university appointment committees, among them Mario Mariani, cardiologist in Pisa. Rizzon can be heard boasting to Mariani: “He was the best and we screwed him!” He refers to Eugenio Picano, a candidate whose impact score in terms of citations of scientific articles was nearly six times greater than the next best candidate who got the job. Inverse selection is endemic in Italian academia, and much of it occurs because of corruption and nepotism. But the selection of L-doers rather than H-doers can arguably be sustained by the desire to keep L-doers strong and unchallenged…

A key feature of our situation is that the dominance of LL preferences remains veiled by the H-rhetoric. Both parties collude by engaging in a sort of “joint mimicry” and pass themselves off as H-doers. A teacher who pretends to teach, benefits from students who pretend to learn, and vice versa. By jointly mimicking H, both parties may aim at fooling outsiders, or simply fool themselves into sustaining a self-image of better quality.

The fact that people prefer LL exchanges while paying lip service to H-ness makes our situation different from the transparent mutually agreed exchange of lower quality goods that we mentioned at the onset. In the latter case there is no H-façade. There is also, more importantly, no externality, both parties get what they expect and no one else suffers from L being exchanged. While in our case, at the very least, the credibility of H-promises is undermined. If, in addition, our exchanging characters work for an institution that purports to be delivering an H-service, the value of the institution’s service will be tacitly eroded by each LL exchange, as a school in which both teachers and students pretend to be teaching and learning respectively…

…When the value of a good depends on its H-image rather than on their actual H-ness, and the image can partially resist the erosion caused by low quality, then there is an advantage to keep up the H-façade. There exists a fraudulent business in Southern Italy of adulterated olive oil made up mixing hazelnut and sunflower-seed oil, sold under the label “extra-virgin olive oil”. When Leonardo Marseglia – director of the Casa Olearia company in Apulia – was charged with contraband and fraud against European Union (and then acquitted) for having sold bogus oil under the label “extra virgin”, he justified himself in an interview by arguing that thanks to his adulterated oil many people could afford to buy oil with the label “extra virgin” at a reasonable price. Some people, he claimed, are interested in having at least the image of H-ness. “We pretend to buy good olive oil and you pretend to sell it”. (In zoologists’ jargon this is a case of “cooperative mimicry”, in which those who are apparently fooled cooperate with the mimic, with a view to fooling someone else.)…

L-doers may want to keep up a credible façade with their surrounding Hcommunities because they gain from this: Marseglia had an interest to pretend to comply with EU community standards because he was receiving EU oliveoil subsidies. Also, L-doers manoeuvre to prop up their reputation for H ness with their naïve local audiences by being seen standing shoulders to shoulders – briefly but as noisily as possible to be heard far and wide – with H-doers, as in the case of L-universities liberally dishing out honoris causa degrees. And which distinguished scholar would want a degree honoris causa from a University that frankly admitted to having abysmal standards? Finally, the maintenance of an H-façade may simply satisfy the need to reduce the cognitive dissonance between what one practices and what one preaches. The gap between the H-standards and the L-standards creates uneasiness among L-doers. Even if they cultivate specious legitimising reasons to practice L-ness (as we shall see below), many still seem aware that there is another set of reasons, which enjoin one to do H. The dissonance is reduced by interacting always with the same people, whom one can trust for not challenging one’s standards. L-doers segregate themselves in mutual admiration societies…

…One might suspect that L-doers are similar to those who in schools or factories gang up against those who work better and harder than they do, in general against those who keep up or raise standards of performance making the rest look like worse performers or forcing them to increase their own standards. Especially when the rewards are insensitive to the quality of performance – e.g. the salary at the end of the month is the same – there is no point producing at H level of quality. There are certainly elements in common between our case and this case. Agents form a cartel by agreeing to produce L and punish those who produce H for they break the agreement. For anti-stakhanovites as well as for our L-doers, doing L amounts to doing H with respect to their cartel agreement…

…This L-norm may occupy a conceptual space similar to “amoral familism”, a set of practices and beliefs that E. C. Banfield (1958) identified in southern Italy as being the source of lack of economic and cultural development. In his fieldwork in Montegrano, a fictitious name he coined for a poor southern Italian village of 3,400 people, Banfield explained the extreme poverty and backwardness of the village by a lack of cooperation due to the ethos of its inhabitants of “maximizing the material short-run advantage of the nuclear family” and discounting any moral consideration for the whole community. In our case, we have a similar social norm that encourages people to maximize the short run advantage of a connivance relation that tolerates side-interests and LL-preferences, while avoiding a form of HH-cooperation, which, while more individually demanding, would be beneficial for the whole community (having a high level of teaching at the university, publishing high quality papers, etc.)…

There might be a sort of disposition to develop amoral-familistic relationships outside the family, with people who become “familiar” thanks to a shared proneness towards LL exchanges. In our case it is the L-disposition that creates the familiarity…

Our basic point so far can be summed up thus: if you give me L but in return you tolerate my L we collude on L-ness, we become friends in L-ness, just like friends we tolerate each other’s weaknesses. But if you give me H that leaves you free to disclose my L-ness and complain about it. So you are not my friend, I fear and resent you, and if I cannot punish you for producing H, at least I avoid dealing with you. While in an ordinary world it is L-doers who are punished by avoidance and exclusion, in an L dominated world it is H-doers who are ostracised. Essentially, the L-exchange can be seen as a cartel of mediocrities who pretend to be H...

… The payoffs can be tilted in favour of L-ness endogenously, by coalitions of L doers who join forces to sanction H-doers and to reward each other. In turn, this is frequency dependent: coalitions of L-doers are more likely to emerge the higher the number of “naturally born” L doers, of real L-types who are smart enough to join forces and gain power. When the number of H-doers is low, H-doers find it harder to meet, interact and reward each other generating virtuous circles. Part of the explanation for the emergence of LL-dominance is endogenous.

…We can expect L- cartels to develop where either or both following conditions obtain:

• Rewards have a weak sensitivity to H-ness, such as when jobs are ultra-safe, salaries flat, upward mobility has barriers, and friendship-based promotions dominate over merit based ones. The only H-doers left will be those driven by principle, by intrinsic motivations – the inveterate perfectionists.

• Punishments for L-doers are low, or have a low probability of being meted out or are negotiable; where “forgive” dominates “punish”, where, to jest, catholic sanctity fattens skulduggery…

…Social norms, in the dominant interpretation, would exist as an antidote to our natural antisocial proclivities. The interest of our case is to suggest that this distinction does not stand up, and that those whom we think of as free-riders too operate within a normative structure – a special “cement of society” that glues L-doers together to the detriment of the common good…

Gambetta, D., & Origgi, G. (2013). The ll game the curious preference for low quality and its norms. Politics, Philosophy & Economics, 12(1), 3-23.


December 22, 2016

2016 Highlights...

Bullying of Academics in Higher Education: Effects of Psychological Harassment: 'Individual Effects Many studies show that psychological harassment has extremely negative effects for individuals...

Bullying of Academics in Higher Education: Mr Elkadi...: "...As someone with an inherent knowledge of Elkadi, having had him as a head of school I can confirm his management practices can be...

Bullying of Academics in Higher Education: A living nightmare - 'Prof' Platon Alexiou...: This man presents himself as a real 'Professor' - In fact he has not written a single scientific paper... This man presents himself...

Bullying of Academics in Higher Education: The Australian National University... [With links....: A little over a year ago the Canberra Times, the local newspaper in Australia’s capital city,  ran a story...

Bullying of Academics in Higher Education: Bullying and Discrimination at University of Leice...: My name is Max Casu; I was a mature Ph.D. student at the UoL. Unfortunately all my excitements about the above Ph.D. turned into...

Bullying of Academics in Higher Education: The many faces of Prof. Hassan Abdalla...: The one on the right...

Bullying of Academics in Higher Education: Ulster's Academic Genocide - Year Zero With Vc "Ba...: Readers of this site will be familiar with the bullying that's befallen Deakin University. Here in the UK, Ulster University recently...

Bullying of Academics in Higher Education: 'Professor' David Vaughan...: What allegation was made against 'Professor' David Vaughan, and why did police go to his house?

Bullying of Academics in Higher Education: Ian Farren

December 19, 2016

Ex-Stanford professor: I was pushed out after reporting sexual harassment

Stephen Hinton wouldn’t leave her alone. After Michelle Karnes politely rejected the Stanford professor and former dean, according to her complaint, he didn’t back down.

It was July 2012, and he allegedly told Karnes, then an untenured professor, that he had a “crush” on her and was “tormented” by his feelings. She said she made clear she didn’t want further contact. But Hinton – a powerful faculty member who had hired her – allegedly continued to confront her at the gym, telling her he wasn’t “stalking”, but wanted to talk.

“I just wanted to crawl out of my skin, I was so uncomfortable,” Karnes, 42, said in an interview. “I was really scared.”

A university investigation of Karnes’ sexual harassment complaint concluded that Hinton, who is 20 years older, had made an “unwanted sexual advance”, but it’s unclear if the professor faced any consequences. On the contrary, Karnes says that administrators retaliated against her for speaking up and pushed her out of Stanford.

Hinton vigorously denied the allegations, claiming they had a “platonic, reciprocal relationship” and pointing out that a university investigation concluded his conduct did not constitute sexual harassment.

From Karnes’ perspective, however, the university went to great lengths to protect a senior faculty member and silence his accuser, prioritizing the institution’s reputation over her wellbeing.

Her story comes on the heels of numerous sexual misconduct controversies at Stanford, one of America’s most prestigious universities, and as women in academia across the US have increasingly spoken up about assault, harassment and discrimination.

Karnes’ story boosts the claims of Stanford students and faculty who argue that the institution has policies and a broader culture that systematically fail to acknowledge the problem, leading administrators to punish victims while not holding perpetrators accountable...

More info at: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/dec/19/ex-stanford-professor-i-was-pushed-out-after-reporting-sexual-harassment

December 16, 2016

Imperial College review reveals 'bullying behaviour'

The pursuit of excellence at one of the UK’s top universities has helped to create a culture of bullying, discrimination and fear, according to a report.

The report, based on a year-long research project at Imperial College London, heard that staff at the institution are too scared to speak out about problems, leaving them vulnerable, unheard or undermined.

Imperial’s provost, James Stirling, said that the institution must do better and was committed to gender equality.

The institution commissioned researchers from the University of Sussex’s Centre for Gender Studies to look at gender equality at the institution because of events at student Varsity rugby matches last year.

The university apologised to the women’s rugby team after they were left playing to an empty stadium when the coaches ferrying spectators back to campus were allowed to leave early.
The team had alleged that they were treated unfairly compared with the men’s team and that a member of staff was overheard saying that they did not care “how those fat girls” got home, although an investigation found no evidence of the verbal abuse.

The research project collected data from almost 250 staff and students through in-depth interviews, focus groups, an open text survey and an anonymous blog. The researchers also used documentary analysis and observations at the college.

The full report has not been made public but an 11-page review document was circulated among staff by email on 9 December and has been published on Imperial's website.

It says the research found that Imperial's focus on excellence "had served the College well in many ways" but "this dominant focus had a negative impact on wellbeing and social equity".

“There were many examples given to the researchers of bullying and discriminatory behaviour…Bullying also intersected with categories such as class, gender (and gender identity), race, disability and sexual orientation,” says the review document.

Many of those questioned linked bullying and discrimination with the “'elite’ white masculinity” of the majority of the staff population, according to the report. “Examples of misogynistic and homophobic conduct were given and one interviewee expressed concern that the ‘ingrained misogyny’ at Imperial was so deep that it had become normal,” it adds.

The report also found that staff felt senior management would turn a blind eye to the poor behaviour of people deemed valuable to the university.

Despite a no-tolerance stance on harassment and bullying and support initiatives for those affected, the research found that staff and students did not speak up about issues. Participants said they did not speak out because they feared nothing would be done, that they would lose their jobs or that it would make matters worse.

“'Speaking up’ also intersected with equalities issues, and women in particular reported being silenced in various ways,” according to the review.

Many of those who took part in the research said that the sector-wide gender initiative Athena SWAN was seen as little more than a “box ticking exercise” that had “provided a veneer” to hide inequality at the university.

“There was a feeling from some participants that the College did not promote equality and diversity at all…The researchers noted that it is difficult to promote equality and diversity within an institution which is ‘so profoundly gendered, classed and raced’,” says the document.

Participants reported a lack of community spirit at the university and said that departments were played off against each other. Staff and students also said that they felt that asking for support was viewed as “shameful, weak and evidence of failure”.

In a news article about the report published on Imperial’s website, Professor Stirling said: “We strongly believe that Imperial is only a world-class institution because of our talented, diverse community. We want everyone at the College to feel supported, respected, and able to excel. That is why we are committed to ensuring gender equality and eradicating sexist behaviour wherever we can, at all levels.

“These findings remind us that we cannot stand still. We must do better,” he said, adding that the process may not be easy.

“I am confident that by working together we can create as supportive and inclusive an environment as we can, since that is what all our staff and students deserve,” he said.

Last year, Imperial carried out a review of its use of performance metrics after the suicide in 2014 of Stefan Grimm, a professor of toxicology at the institution who had been told he was “struggling to fulfil the metrics” of a professorial post.