What’s been going on then?

Since October I’ve been pretty busy (= understatement of century!).
I seem to have developed 4 main research projects.  I’ve found a great set of collaborators on project 1 and with them submitted 3 grant applications (1 success, 1 fail, 1 pending).  We’ve also got a student starting in a few weeks on project 1 which will be fun.  I submitted 1 grant on project 2 which failed and I have shelved that project for now because I want to focus on project 3 & 4.  Project 3 has had one preliminary grant application submitted (still waiting to see if it gets through to round two – fingers crossed) but will have a small herd of undergrad project students starting on it in a few weeks.  Project 4 is closely related to project 3 and has had one grant application submitted (still waiting).  Fortunately I have a student starting on that in a few weeks also thanks to some miracle that found money for a studentship.  I’ve also got a great collaborator for P3&4  so those applications have so far been joint.
It never ended this year – I finished teaching a few weeks ago due to the specialist nature of some of my courses.  It was a long hard slog from October to July, and I was really feeling the pain by the last few sessions.  I have to do the same again next year.
This is, of course, A-level results week and so I’m nervously waiting to see what our intake will be like this year.  Most universities in the UK are reducing their intake this year due to government budget cuts, but I believe that our main course should be similar to last year.  Personally I thought last year was a little on the high side – it doesn’t take that many more students to seriously put a dent in the non-teaching work time (i.e. research), but I really can’t complain.  After all, no undergrads, no job!  I’m planning to adopt an 80:20 rule for teaching this year because I really felt last year that about 20% of the stuff I was doing was benefiting 80% of the class and the other 80 % was benefiting such a small number of students, that it wasn’t really worth the extra effort.  I’m hoping to keep teaching well and truly in its box this year and invest my time wisely.
The Other 33 %:
Ah, this is where the pain really hits! It is amazing what a time suck all the various service/admin/whatever tasks become.  Some are fun, don’t get me wrong, and I love doing some of them when I don’t feel pressurised like I should be doing something else, but seriously there is a limit to how much you can do and stay sane!  And not all admin is created equal, and not all academics are – there is huge variation in how much time/effort people devote to a task and therefore huge variation in how well its doing.

Still, busy but can’t really find much to complain about.  I love my job, I have great colleagues, we’re all under similar pressure (as is most of the university sector), but mostly manage to go about things with a decent sense of humour.

Right, off to find an open bottle of wine and hopefully some Dr Who!

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