40 years ago in Chemistry in Britain

40 years ago in Chemistry in Britain

A reader contrasts their previous position as a university lecturer in North America with their current position as a university lecturer in the UK. 

No travelling or removing expenses are paid as it is considered an honour to be offered a post in a British University. 

I am expected to give half a lecture course, conduct tutorials and demonstrate at a laboratory class under supervision, and I have about as much responsibility as a research student demonstrator. 

All my requirements for research must be vetted by my section leader and the laboratory superintendent. I have an office with no telephone or means of ventilation. I have a bench for research in a large laboratory. I am not even allowed to have a departmental key. 

I find that I am confronted with very poorly clothed, long-haired, lazy students. Although the North American students chew gum all the time they are at least tidily dressed. 

The foreign students in the UK make a much better impression than the British ones, being eager to learn and smartly turned out. 

In short, in North America I was treated as a grown man, capable of accepting some responsibility and in the UK I am treated like a child, who must be watched over at all times. Add to this a considerably larger salary, after deductions, in North America, and it is small wonder that there is a brain drain. 

Edited version of a letter from Disillusioned (March 1967)