In the latest edition of University Registrars Talking About Stuff, Episode 23 in the series, I’m in conversation with Andrew Young, Chief Operating Officer at the London School of Economics. We talk about Andrew’s career history - from Newcastle to the capital - and the joys and challenges of working in an institution with such a distinctive history and character as the LSE as well as the experience of the London context for working patterns.
The excellent response of staff to the start of the lockdown is covered along with the need to move quickly and beyond prepared incident management procedures and remain agile - in order to be ready for next time, be it another pandemic or even, as Andrew suggests, a meteorite strike! In such circumstances there is a real reliance on all staff pulling together, drawing on everyone’s institution knowledge but also as Andrew notes retaining a sense of perspective on the usual administrative challenges and giving colleagues the space to work through difficult issues.
We discuss the distance between Ministers and universities in terms of decision making and the need for Whitehall to be better informed about the realities of higher education operations rather than just issuing edicts. Finally we look at the issues around the possibility of university closures and mergers post-pandemic, concluding that latter seems quite likely in the years ahead.