No, MBA does not mean 'Mercedes Benz Awaited' or 'Master of B****r All'. It means 'Master of Business Administration'. Isn't it strange that the most prized of business qualifications is a degree in administration - and now we are all meant to hate administrators. 'Get rid of the administrators' is the cry from government as spending departments are requested to make plans for both 20% and 40% cuts. They are the soft target, the waste spending, the organisational bloat. Administrators are not on the front line, they do not deliver the service, they are expendable. There may be small germ of truth in all of this but there is a general term for the abuse heaped on administrators by the managing class - self serving tosh!
In the NHS the barrier to greater efficiency is not the admin staff who absorb a miserly 3% of the budget of £110bn but the consultants. This elite band of men and women are the ones who really run the NHS and get paid handsomely for the privilege. Consultants enjoy a dual income flow from both the NHS and their private practice. Many make sure that the NHS operates in such a way as to maximise their private earning capacity.
In higher education it’s the administrative functions who get hit first when the cutbacks come. Central admin, registry services and student support will be the first to be hit. But where is the waste? Well a significant part has been the over bloated transfer market brought about by the research assessment exercise. Academics who would not have rated a senior lectureship (or possibly even a job) a generation ago are now naming their pay as they jump from one university to another. Vice Chancellors who award themselves double digit pay rises voted through by remuneration committees populated by the victims of corporate euthanasia. University Council meetings generally have the incisiveness of the land of the living dead and in too many cases are quite willing to sign off ridiculous projects. One university that boasts a number of campuses in the beautiful county town of Midshire decided to invest in a campus in London. The £Nm planned investment using borrowed money was signed off by a supine Council who thought it all a ‘jolly good idea’. £(N+2)m later and no discernable use for the London site the university, in financial distress, sold it off.
The biggest source of waste in the public services is gravy training by anyone who can get away with it. The poor administrators are the ones who turn up day in, day out and who try to make the systems work. A wise man once said: ‘to those who have plenty even more will be given, to those who have little even that will be taken away’.