Friday, February 05, 2016

Cambridge University's Sustainability as world leader?

Three things lead me to question the sanity of the powers that be in Cambridge University

First of all, always recall that there is no Cambridge University. It is an emergent phenomenon, a hologram made visible only through the lens of the Scholars, the Colleges and the Departments.

The Colleges are a mix zone, where social things happen, and housing, care and feeding of scholars occurs. Departments do research and teach. At least they have been for 800 years. This is all changing, very very quickly, without any evident thought of the unintended consequences.

1. Pay

I'm not complaining, but note bene - I am paid 2 bands up in the prof scale in recognition of being FRS and FREng. However, in Cambridge, what this translates into is that I am paid below the average professorial salary in the top 20 universities (ranked by pay) in the UK - these are'nt dodgy universities but include most of Cambridge's direct competitors. See
this tool if you want to check (and infer my pay:-)

Does this matter? sure;y the honour of working for cambridge is enough? sure, if you can live in Cambridge, or near enough in commute terms (strictly within 12 miles of Gt St Mary's church spire, or an hour's horse ride, originally) - good luck with that - and the modern scholar isn't a lone monk. They have a family, kids etc - the colleges no longer accommodate them. Nor do many of them work near a college so even dropping in for lunch is pretty unlikely.

2. Land Use

the university is hell bent on filling in all the gaps down by the station leading out to Addenbrookes Hosptial, and out in west cambridge, leading to the M11. Yes, we need more new good lab space. We also like the environment of Cambridge (elegant old buildings surrounded by park space like Midsummer Common, or Parker's Piece, or the Botanical Gardens). So why do we have to put up with this vandalism ? This includes stupid failures to even think about wind tunnel effects (we're in Cambridge with horizontal freezing rain on some days. How nice is that?).

3. Transport

Transport around Cambridge is ok (by bike) but useless if you live in an outlying village and have to drive in (and your kids to school). Compare with london - where people can get around....although they might have to live in Plaistow for an affordable home on a london academic salary...

house price by london tube station

So there will be jobs in lots of high rise buildings no-one can afford to live near, can't commute to and don't like. No shops, restaurants, pubs, green space, school, nurseries, adequate bike routes, etc etc

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