Alexander Kurz

Academic Leadership at the University of Leicester

I had joined the University of Leicester in 2002. Leicester was an excellent place, great colleagues, fun to work at, open to creating new degrees (eg in software engineering) and had top research in many subjects. In fact, at the time, it aspired to be the best UK university outside the elite Russell group.

In 2016, the university leadership team decided, without coherent reasoning, to terminate the contracts of some of the finest mathematicians I know. While this was retracted after wide publicity and resistance, the university leadership team, in its wisdom, did decide to close the research group on nanotechnology and quantum physics.

I left in 2018, not least because I couldn’t trust a management which made seemingly arbitrary decisions that were never explained and justified from the point of view of teaching and research (nor even from a business point of view).

Then, in 2021, under new but apparently not more qualified management, the university leadership team decided to close pure mathematics and theoretical computer science. I should add that Computer Science had been a profitable department for a long time and pure mathematics did very well at the research assessment REF 2021. Indeed, the University never said that the redundancies were due to economic constraints. Rather top researchers and teachers where forced out by administrators, who—from my own first-hand experience—were not only unqualified but also refused to listen to external expertise. A snapshot of the embarrassing mix of arrogance and incompetence of the university leadership can be gleaned from Prof Burrell’s letter to the VC.