Meet the shortlist: Dr Paul Greatrix

Name: Dr Paul Greatrix

Job title: Registrar

Institution: University of Nottingham

Essay title: ‘Setting the Record Straight: the Case for a National Student Administration Management System’

What is your higher education history?

I’ve basically never left higher ed, starting as student at Edinburgh University a VERY long time ago, then, after a stint as elected and unpaid chair of a student political group in Scotland post-graduation, joining Staffordshire Polytechnic, initially as an Administrative Assistant, for four years before moving to the University of East Anglia. After six years at UEA, primarily working on quality issues, I moved to the University of Warwick where I held a number of posts including a period as Acting Registrar and finally completed the UEA PhD I started 10 years earlier. After an entertaining series of roles at Warwick, several of which involved working for Jonathan Nicholls I moved to the University of Nottingham, where I have been privileged to serve since 2007.

I also used to blog regularly on Wonkhe but now messes around with podcasts instead.

What does your current role cover?

As Registrar I am responsible to the President and Vice-Chancellor for the academic administration of the University.  As well as being Secretary to the statutory bodies of the University and a member of the University Executive Board, I manage the provision of a broad range of professional services for prospective students, current students and staff. I also deal with lots of other stuff too, from regulatory matters to engagement with the University’s campuses in Malaysia and China.

What do you find most enjoyable and/or challenging in your role?

The most enjoyable thing is being surrounded by and working with incredibly intelligent, talented and creative colleagues. The most challenging element is the sheer number of meetings which a university seems to be able to generate which all take up an unfeasible amount of time.

Why did you choose your essay subject?

I’ve had a number of meetings over the years with administrative leaders in Sweden which have revealed many similarities with and a few striking differences from higher education in the UK. Only very recently at a conference with Swedish colleagues did I discover that Sweden had a national student record system – it was as if it was so obvious to them they had not thought to mention it.

What was the biggest challenge in writing your essay?

There were two: first, imagining a scenario in a UK context where it might be remotely feasible to move to adopting a national student record system and, secondly, writing in an essay style rather than the slightly less rigorous blog format I’ve become used to.

What key message/s would you like readers to take from your essay?

First and foremost that even things which sound completely counter-cultural and counter-intuitive in UKHE could work and bring significant benefits if implemented. But also that we can learn from other countries which just might have a better way of doing things.

Published essay

Paul’s essay has since been published in HEPI in two parts and can be read here: Part One / Part Two

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