Personal and Professional Management Development in English, in France.

Tonyversity View

‘Speed is Everything’ and ‘Small is Beautiful’

By on Jun 24, 2009 in Tonyversity View | 0 comments

Well it is!  The Tonyversity site had been woefully slow for a while and I couldn’t work out why – neither dared I launch it in such circumstances.  However, my good friend and all-round technological genius, Haider, had a good rummage about in the ICT undergrowth and tweaked the necessary buttons (no doubt taking out any coding mistakes I made and being too nice to tell me!), such that things should be working considerably faster now with a five second load for the front page and three or four for subsequent pages.    Although I’d like to shave a bit off even that, I don’t want to take out the pictures and interactive elements that give it some ‘style’… so the only alternative seems to be a more costly subscription to a much faster server – and that will come with a little time. I have tried the site with different browsers: Firefox, Explorer and the new Google Chrome.  The latter seems by far the faster.  Firefox seems to have a small ‘bug’ somewhere and doesn’t like something called ‘’ on my page /tab: ‘About’. Not quite sure why this is… but there it is!   Will endeavour to find a fix.  Probably the problem will evaporate anyway with the next Firefox update. Hope so. Well, I am about to launch the site and cross my fingers.  Wish me luck!...

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French Universities and Strikes

By on May 15, 2009 in Tonyversity View | 0 comments

I’d better put my neck ‘on the block’ I suppose… I don’t like strikes. They strike me as a failure in the system of managing change. But how else can one express a strongly-held view when the other party is not listening, has little or no intention of moderating its stance and is evidently trying force through ill thought-through, half-baked ideas? In the early 90s, new to university lecturing, I resisted being called out on strike (I wasn’t a union member then anyway), because I had been very strong on making a ‘professional’ contract with my students: I would invest in instant feedback, availability for consultation and support between classes, swift return of work if, for their part, the students would attend, participate, work professionally and meet deadlines. I felt that if I then instantly threw all that up in the air I would never regain my credibility with my students. I felt I was right at the time – and I was, in principle, but I don’t think I had fully appreciated the changes the British government was about to impose on the Higher Education sector and the consequences that would produce in terms of poorer staff-student ratios, less class contact time, massively overworked students trying to invest fully in a degree whilst holding down a significant part-time job to be able to pay the dramatically increased fees and claw back against the inevitable student loan (after the withdrawl of grants). Neither had I foreseen what the pressure for universities to generate their own income would do in marginalising teaching: the ‘gods’ became revenue-earning (consultancy / applied research) and pure research to up the research rating of the University and teaching appeared to be fast becoming a tertiary activity. I should have seen that that was worth manning the barricades for. Some 20 years on and the fiercely independent and collegiate academics in French Universities find themselves on the cusp of the same agenda. Those who are research-focused don’t seem to mind the prospect, but I doubt they have seen all the picture. The Universities remain state-funded but now, under a law from 2008 have a significantly greater measure of autonomy. Naively the Vice-Chancellors felt that this much...

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