An interview with me has just gone up here on the Maths Careers website.
Being a mathematician in the academic world has been a great career for me, without a doubt.
But on the other hand, I probably come over in a lot of recent posts as sounding a bit gloomy about the present status of the profession. In particular,
- my department bosses think that excellent teaching should be discouraged, and that a half-baked scheme to put on a Masters in Financial Mathematics (a subject we have no experience in) is a get-out-of-jail-free card;
- my institution bosses think that all new appointments must have business plans showing that they will earn as much as they cost, and that they can aspire to be a top-ten research institution at the same time as having a new structure for the teaching year requiring us to be here for a big chunk of the summer;
- the Government think that the only beneficiaries of higher education are the students, and that they should carry the full cost.
So is it hypocritical of me to encourage young people into the profession?
Perhaps my escape route is that, I believe, the pendulum will one day swing back the other way; our teaching and research will be valued by society as they once were. With luck, this will happen before the current 11-14 year olds reach the end of their second post-doc and start looking for permanent academic jobs.
What do you think?