Wednesday, January 17, 2007

what are the chances of a 55% pay increase?

(1) The BBC reports Cambridge University's appointment of a Professorship in the Public Understanding of Risk. Quite properly, they have realised that there is considerable confusion when it comes to estimating risk, particularly in terms of developing appropriate responses to health scares, environmental problems, etc. Low levels of awareness of statistical methods can lead to serious difficulty in decision making and the solid application of appropriate mathematical methods can provide more realistic assessments.

(2) Meanwhile, back in Ireland, the campaign for a wage increase for University Presidents continues apace with an article in yesterday's Irish Times (sorry, only subscribers can view it online - so much for freedom of information!) by Ed Walsh, previously of the University of Limerick. The current salary (straddling €200K) doesn't compare with that of a Chief Executive of a company. It's interesting that such is deemed an appropriate benchmark, given the considerable arguments that have been voiced by many in academia that education is not a commodity and that students are not customers. In this modern world the concept of vocation is for those further down the pecking order, obviously. Someone like the Taoiseach, perhaps, whose salary is only €167,960 (but then he gets his usual TD salary on top, but that still brings him up to a lot less than the Presidents are after).

(3)Answer to question of longevity? According to a report in the Guardian (on work undertaken at Warwick University), winning a Nobel Prize can add two years onto your lifespan! So there's the answer, then - get back to your work and churn out those paradigm-busting papers.

(4) The OU has now started (well a wee while back, actually) making some of its electronic content available for free to other institutions and individuals in a similar way to the older MIT initiative, but with more developed content.

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