I am really very cross with Andrew Adonis. In 80s Oxford, most humanities teaching was done within single colleges by tutors who only taught
a fairly narrow range of unchanging courses, teaching was arranged between colleagues over lunch, and once you had worked up a paper (which
would likely already have been devised by someone else), you could give tutorials in it for many years in the same way. Most colleges had
secretaries who would do any photocopying or typing tutors needed. Tutors mostly saw students singly and rarely marked essays; instead
they gave verbal feedback having spent 20 minutes of the tutorial listening to the student read out their essay. They did not necessarily
provide reading lists, and were very unlikely to provide course outlines or other study aids. Examiners were not expected to provide legible
feedback commenting clearly on specific assessment criteria, nor were they expected to clearly articulate those criteria in the first place.
In 1988, there were 9,516 applications for undergraduate study, compared to 18,377 in 2015 (so that’s 8,861 fewer applications to consider).
Access and outreach events were rare and did not involve developing mini-curricula for potential students. In 1991 there were 4,045 graduate
students, and barely any masters’ students expecting classes or seminars, in 2014 there were 10,173. In 2015-16 there were 24,645
applications for graduate study and each application required a full written report. Graduate funding was allocated centrally rather than
competed for internally. There was probably no IT committee, no Equality Committee, no Welfare committee, probably no Library &
Special Collections Committee, no Admissions & Access committee, no Development Committee in either the College or the Faculty.
There might have been a wine committee, garden committee. The RAE was already in place, but research activity was not yet subject to
constant monitoring of academics by academics, there were no impact case-studies, no tracking of grant applications and awards
no pressure to develop partnerships with other organisations for knowledge-exchange, no need to maintain an online presence.
There were fewer post-docs and research assistants to support and manage. There were fewer journals to edit or write reviews for, and
I happen to think that we are much the better for many of the changes referred to. But life is very different to what it was for a
Junior Research Fellow in an Oxford Graduate College in the 1980s, and this is in an institution which is enormously well-resourced and
where academics are comparatively insulated from the pressure to publish, the demand to meet particular research and teaching targets,