Professor Sir David Watson, who recently won the Times Higher Education Lifetime Achievement Award, has nine laws of academic politics he would like to share.
* Academics grow in confidence the farther away they are from their true fields of expertise (what you really know about is provisional and ambiguous, what other people do is clear-cut and usually wrong)
* You should never go to a school or department for anything that is in its title (which university consults its architecture department on the estate, or – heaven forbid – its business school on the budget?)
* The first thing a committee member says is the exact opposite of what she means (“I’d like to agree with everything the vice-chancellor has just said, but…”; or “with respect”…; or even “briefly”)
* Courtesy is a one-way street (social-academic language is full of hyperbole, and one result is the confusion of rudeness – or even cruelty – with forthrightness; however, if a manager responds in kind, it’s a federal case)
* On email, nobody ever has the last word
* Somebody always does it better elsewhere (because they are better supported)
* Feedback counts only if I agree with it
* The temptation to say “I told you so” is irresistible
* Finally, there is never enough money, but there used to be.