For a long time universities have been derided as ivory towers. But when academic Margaret Sims wrote her latest book, looking at management in tertiary education, she had a new name: Bullshit Towers.
"There is a whole lot of literature around the business world about bullshit language becoming quite a thing," Professor Sims said.
"It sounds lovely when you listen to it, who could argue about 'quality teaching', but it's all hot air because when you drill down to what's underneath it, none of the actions support that.
"They cut their teaching staff by a huge amount, which makes it impossible to deliver quality."
But Professor Sims' book is not just about language. Her probe into management culture found much more disturbing matters.
She said there was a general culture that if you're going to be a manager you have to fit into, or you don't succeed.
"That involves losing empathy for workers. They can be used, exploited and then discarded," she said.
Working as a union rep at universities, Professor Sims said she saw the worst cases.
"I had people that I had to put on suicide watch because of the way that they were treated, and the utter inability of management to actually deal with complaints around bullying and that kind of treatment of people.
"There seemed to be a genuine bewilderment that people would object to being treated like that," she said.
Professor Sims finished writing the book at the beginning of 2020.
"It was actually published midway through last year but because of the virus there was a delay."
It is now available for sale, and has almost sold out at Boobooks, where the book will be officially launched on Thursday this week.
"I've put in an urgent order for more, but I'd be surprised if they're here for the launch. But they can take orders and we'll get them in as soon as we can," Professor Sims said.
- The book launch for Bullshit Towers starts at 5.30pm on Thursday at Boobooks.
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