New Conversation: Faculty Affairs in Changing Educational Systems


Faculty Affairs in Changing Educational Systems

A Conversation with Dr. Frank Xu

In May 2023, JPHE Senior Editor Z.W. Taylor spoke with Dr. Frank Xu. Dr. Xu's research focuses on intercultural communication. He has now been residing in the United Kingdom for over 10 years. During that time, he also conducted research in various EU countries and some Asian countries. This free flowing conversation tackled many topics, most critically the role that faculty may play in recruiting students to specific academic programs.

Zach Taylor:

Frank, give me a little bit a little background introduction on who you are. What have you done? Where have you come from? What's your current job? And what are you doing in education?

Frank Xu:

Thank you for inviting me to this conversation. I am interested in sharing my experiences with you during this one-hour dialogue. Let me tell you a bit about myself. I was born in China and completed my first degree there. Later, I received a scholarship that allowed me to choose between going to the United States or the United Kingdom. I decided to pursue my studies in the UK, and thanks to the scholarship, I completed my second degree there. Additionally, I was admitted to a master's program in China, so I simultaneously pursued two master's degrees in China and the UK. This occurred over 10 years ago.

Afterwards, I was fortunate to receive a scholarship from the Scottish Government, which allowed me to continue my studies in the UK. Following my education, I secured a position at a university in the United Kingdom, which eventually led me to become a lecturer. My research focuses on intercultural communication. I have now been residing in the United Kingdom for over 10 years. During that time, I also conducted research in various EU countries and some Asian countries. Some of these projects were related to mainland China. However, due to the COVID period, I wanted to change my situation. I attempted to secure a more senior position somewhere else. Eventually, I was offered a better job opportunity, which led me to decide to return to China by the end of this year to continue my research. Currently, I hold the position of an associate professor.

Now, let's shift our focus to my research. In terms of my educational background, my first degree centered around grammar, semantics, and syntax. This four-year undergraduate program provided me with a valuable opportunity to enhance my English skills. It served as a foundation and enabled me to access a wide range of resources, including academic literature from various languages and cultures. I came to realize that different languages offer different perspectives and extensive scholarly contributions.

Consequently, my interest shifted from the language itself to understanding people's thoughts, perceptions, and the underlying meanings conveyed through language. I wanted to delve beyond the surface and explore what lies behind it. When I had the opportunity to come to the United Kingdom, I intentionally chose another subject: intercultural communication. I was drawn to this field because it is interdisciplinary in nature and aligns with my curiosity about understanding the complexities of human communication across cultures.

I mean, I'm talking about, like, ten years ago when I had a very broad idea. I hadn’t got into the field yet. I was told that this field is more about an interdisciplinary kind of field, drawing on all different kinds of traditional disciplines like sociology, psychology, and so on. So, I thought, "Wow, that's great!" because I would like to know exactly what's going on in the human world, in society. I have been staying in this field from then on. I did my PhD since the beginning of 2013. I finished my PhD in the middle of 2017. Then I became a lecturer from late 2017. Yeah, that's what I am. I'm lecturing in intercultural communication. My research, my publications, I could still be considered a young career young researcher, whatever. So, my published papers are more about intercultural competence, exploring the intercultural competence of university students, intercultural training, and also moving on to intercultural management. I try to see how people from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds communicate and exchange ideas, or, some people try to simplify cultural differences into different nationalities, but you know, I criticize that. We can talk about that later. So how do people come together, work together, either in higher education or in multinational corporations? What's going on there? What causes conflicts? How do we solve those problems? What could be the issues? What would be the best way of doing those things? That's what I'm doing now.

Zach Taylor:

Excellent. So Frank, given all of your experience, which seems to be really wide-ranging, and your already prestigious career, what do you think is the most pressing issue? I mean, if you were in charge of international education research, what would you focus on? What is the most pressing issue in education today, and how would you go about addressing it?

Frank Xu:

I think that's a very good question. I always try to reflect on that and ask myself what's going on in higher education. I can only offer my opinions, which may not be agreed upon by other people. But anyway, if you ask me, I think the most pressing issue at the moment is the need to redefine or define again, not just redefine, the meaning of being a student in higher education. What's the meaning of being a lecture or a professor in the university? To me, I realize that, okay, because I started my higher education experience only about 16 years ago, I was admitted to the university in 2006, so let's count from that point. It's only been less than 20 years, which is a very short period compared to many established researchers or professors anyway. But based on my experience, let's just talk about the past 10 years. I think the university I have been working in the United Kingdom, as well as the university I'm currently working at back in mainland China, have some similarities or commonalities. One commonality that I think is very prominent, and I also consider it a challenge, is that universities try to consider students as customers. That leads to my concerns. Because, for example, in the United Kingdom, we would like to admit as many students as possible. We all know that students' tuition fees provide essential funding to the university, as the government only provides limited funding. They need to survive and they need funds for salaries, labs, and so on. We all understand the reasons why, but it seems that we have gone too far. For example, last year, I don't want to provide too many details, but last year we admitted around 400 MBA students in just one semester, 400 from one particular country. Do you think it's manageable for only a small group of lecturers to supervise the master's degree for 400 students in a year, to divide their attention among them? In the end, we have also been subtly told that they must graduate. Okay, try not to fail those students. Okay. We don't want to question the agenda behind that, but to me, it is very apparent that the focus is on getting the students to complete the requirements and obtain the degree. We get the money. But I think this has changed the nature of higher education.

I think high education, to me, I may seem to be innocent or maybe seem to be too naive, but to me, I still hold the belief that higher education needs to give students proper time to consider and philosophically challenge themselves, to figure out who they would like to be. You don't need to tell students, "Take this course and you will find a better job" or "Choose my course and your salary will be doubled compared to other students when you graduate." This is all about marketing, sales, and driven by neoliberalism. So now, when students come to the university, that are the mindsets they have. Anyway, I don't mean all students, but the majority of students come to us and ask, "Will I be employed quickly if I take your course? Will this job secure my future when I graduate next year?" They always link higher education to employability. I understand that employability is one of the criteria for universities to compete with each other, like who has a high employment rate and who has a low employment rate. Everybody knows that. But those benchmarks are all led by a certain kind of neoliberalism, in my opinion. Actually, I think universities should not be judged based on those criteria. It's more about what I can learn and how my worldview can be developed, whether I can think differently after three or four years of undergraduate study, or after a one-year or two-year master's degree in another country. What will be different? What will be the transformational experience I have in this particular university? I think it's the responsibility of lecturers and professors to offer these experiences to the students because they can't get them from anywhere else apart from higher education institutions. But if we, as higher education institutions, turn ourselves into trainers or directors in the sales department, and only give students tasks like "Finish this, and then I will give you the marks," and "Of course, I will give you blah blah blah," and after three successful trimesters, you will be employed. This is all about sales. So that's what I think is one of the biggest challenges. And also, linked to that, universities now, and I'm not saying all universities, but this is what I have experienced, take higher education and directly connect it to the job market. I mean, from the students' perspective. So, the students start to become very instrumental. This is the second issue because those things are interconnected.

The students only care about how much work they need to do and what score they can get. If you give the students two options to complete a coursework, they always choose the easier one, the one that could get them high marks. I'm not saying all students are like that, but I would like to say that the majority of students I have taught, more than two-thirds, would choose that option because they want to use the minimum investment to get the most out of it. But to be honest, from my personal view, this is not what higher education should be telling students. Higher education should give students time to explore themselves, to reflect on themselves, to question themselves, to challenge themselves, and to criticize what's going on. We shouldn't give definite answers. The answers should be open. At least in my field, which is social sciences, there are no best answers. When students ask me, "Frank, what do you think would be the best way to manage if you're a manager in a multinational company?"

What would be the best way to manage people and ensure there are no conflicts in teams? I always say, "Sorry, your starting point is wrong." How can you make sure that human beings working together can have one single golden rule that fixes everything? What I can tell you is that what you need to learn from university is to explore how complex the human world is, how complex each mindset can be. Then, based on that understanding, you can know how to respond in different situations and scenarios. Your response may vary from day to day, and that's normal. However, I think students have lost their patience. They only want to say, "Oh, Frank, if that's the case, why am I here?" They want to learn frameworks from lectures and apply them to their future work. They want to demonstrate to their bosses that they have the ability to solve problems. This is the experience I have been witnessing. But if we go back to the original question you asked me about the most pressing thing in universities or higher education, I would say it's the orientation of universities. I don't know who is responsible for that. Maybe it's the government, maybe the whole country, maybe the entire world now. Am I right? After globalization and the influence of neoliberalism, maybe the entire nation, not just one country, needs to reflect on it. I don't think we should only blame the university president, the prime minister, or the president of a country. I believe that one person cannot change it. It's a generational thing. It's about the era we are living in. The contemporary era tells us what we should do or what we should be. I think it will take several generations, including my own generation, younger academics, current students, and future academics, to solve this problem.

Zach Taylor:

Yes, Frank, you bring up several interesting topics, including consumerism, capitalism, and academic capitalism. One question I want to raise is about the declining financial support from governments for higher education in the United States and many European contexts. Over the past 40 years, government contributions to higher education have not kept up with inflation, creating financial challenges for institutions. As a result, institutions need to find ways to cover their expenses and remain operational. My first question is, if institutions choose to admit fewer students and collect less tuition, does that mean they need to reduce their staff? Do you think institutions should cut faculty positions? Should institutions focus more on fundraising to generate revenue? How can institutions sustain themselves without admitting more students and increasing tuition fees? Where do you believe the necessary funding should come from?

Frank Xu:

Yeah, I think that's also a good question. To be honest, it's always a dilemma, as I already mentioned. Institutions do need funding to survive. In my opinion, institutions can play different roles. For example, they can have one department that offers training courses to college students and employees. These courses, which are not considered academic courses, can be held in the evenings and cater to full-time employees. The revenue generated from these courses can then be used to support research-oriented departments, such as PhD student training or purely research-focused departments that may not have immediate revenue generation.

Let's take my department as an example. We focus on intercultural communications, which may appear to cost money rather than generate money because we primarily engage in philosophical thinking and understanding people's mindsets. We cannot create products to sell or convert our knowledge into sellable products. So, our department may be seen as a cost center rather than a revenue generator. However, it doesn't mean that such departments should be eliminated or considered less important. We can utilize the revenue from service departments to support research departments like ours.

If we cannot secure sufficient funding from the government or through charity or alumni donations, we can rely on revenue generated by these service departments to cover the expenses of other research departments. It's similar to how a company's design and research departments often incur costs while the sales department generates revenue. The sales department can then cover the costs of the design or research departments. So, we shouldn't simply eliminate research departments because they don't directly generate revenue. It's important to strike a balance.

Zach Taylor:

Yeah, that's a really interesting point to consider: where does the burden fall when it comes to justifying jobs in higher education institutions? Let's think about functional units like admissions, financial aid, housing, and other processes related to driving student enrollment. Essentially, financial aid ensures that students have access to funds from various sources to pay for tuition, student fees, housing, and other expenses. Units like housing, food service, and transportation provide essential services to students, faculty, and staff on campus. Their roles and responsibilities are implicit in their departments and the work they produce.

For example, leadership can assess the number of applications processed, application fees collected, and the number of students enrolled. These numbers are the metrics by which admissions is evaluated. It's clear to leadership why they're paying for this job and what the function of admissions is within the university. I'm not sure if senior-level leaders, in conversations that I'm not privy to, constantly have to advocate for funding for these functional units. They may argue that transportation is necessary for students to navigate between campus buildings, and food service is vital for students' meals. Contracts and vendors are required to ensure students have textbooks, study spaces, and internet infrastructure. These are essential resources for students.

However, on the faculty side, we are focused on building academic programs. The metrics used to measure academic programs often revolve around the number of students enrolled and the tuition dollars they bring. There is also an emphasis on institutional rankings, including the number of degrees conferred and their quality. Furthermore, with the increasing importance of STEM fields, institutions are being evaluated on the number of STEM PhDs and advanced degrees they award, as per the newest Carnegie Research classification.

Frank, I wanted to ask you a question. Is it the responsibility of faculty to justify their own jobs? Do they have to approach institutional leadership and say, "Hey, you have revenue-generating departments and degree programs, but the program I work on is not focused on making money. That's not our purpose." So, first, how would you describe the value of what you do? And secondly, is it the responsibility of faculty to clearly articulate and advocate for their work?

Frank Xu:

Okay, this is a complex question. I would have to take two steps. The first part you asked me is about whether the faculty, the academics like us, have the responsibility to justify to the senior leadership team. For example, how many students we need to recruit for our department for the course that I'm teaching, blah blah. Then the second question you asked me is whether we need to advocate to justify our values in a certain way, to tell the senior leadership, okay, what are my values to this university? Am I right? There are two questions you asked me. Okay, if I understand you correctly, to answer the first question, it is also a conflict I'm constantly experiencing at the moment with the university I'm working at in China. I can tell you a little bit more about the story.

Okay, I belong to a department, but I am not the department's dean. She is very focused on student recruitment, I would say. In her mind, she is not purely an academic, but more like a senior member of the leadership team. According to her, the best and most important priority is to recruit as many students as possible each semester. This is because student number and their tuition fees contribute to teaching, and teaching ensures job security for lecturers. Job security then justifies the department's existence to the senior leadership. This relates back to what you just mentioned. However, in my opinion, because of the university's dean's prioritization of this task, she is willing to sacrifice anything else. For instance, she disregards whether you are responsible for student office leadership or an academic; she always keeps an eye on student recruitment. I have had conflicts with the dean because I disagree with her current approach. Now, moving on to your questions. Regarding the first part, I don't think academics should be responsible for justifying or informing the senior leadership team about how many students we need to recruit this year. It is not our responsibility because we are trained as academics. Our role is to produce research outputs and demonstrate the value of our studies and projects to the university. The outcomes of our studies are important variables. If any students are interested in learning this kind of knowledge, then I can be one of the experts who offers my knowledge.

If you would like to ask me whether we need to have a certain number of students, otherwise we won't have enough revenue, let me clarify that it's not my responsibility. The recruitment team, perhaps the international operations team or the admissions team, should take care of that. It's their job. As you pointed out, we are all paid to fulfill our respective roles. We are paid a salary to conduct research, not to recruit students. So, I hope that answers the first part of your question.

Now, moving on to the second part of your question. You asked whether we should testify or convince the senior leadership of the university why we should be hired, why we should be here. I believe the answer is yes, we should. Our job as academics is no difference from any other job in the world. We need to convince stakeholders why they should invest money in us. We can't expect to receive everything without offering anything in return. We must communicate our value. As academics, our value lies in persuading the university that our research projects have potential values and impacts in our field of knowledge. This can enhance the university's research profile and attract research students interested in the field. We can contribute in various ways. That's our value. However, it's important to be realistic and feasible in our approach. We can't just provide empty promises or fantastic pictures without concrete substance. We need to be practical, achievable, and offer tangible results.

For example, in the university where I work in the UK, we have a new research leader since last year. She expects us to submit a research plan every two years. This plan outlines what we intend to accomplish in the following two years. It's important to assess whether our goals are achievable. She discusses this with each of us individually, considering our previous publications and research track record. For instance, if you have already published two papers, it might be reasonable to aim for publishing a few more in the next two years. It's a gradual process of improvement. Maybe starting with two-star journals for early career researchers and then aiming for three-star journals in subsequent years. It's okay if there are setbacks along the way. The key is to have a realistic and achievable plan rather than something unrealistic or out of reach. It's about making progress step by step.

Zach Taylor:

Yeah, but those are really good points because I know a lot of folks in this field are really invested in the field of academia, and they largely feel this way now. Faculty members have the additional responsibility of recruitment, and traditionally, faculty members at different institution types are assessed on their teaching, research, and service, in various positions. Those priorities get shuffled, but essentially, you have a three-pronged approach: teaching, research, and service. So typically, at many regional universities and smaller universities where research is not the focus, faculty members might teach between three and five classes. Teaching satisfaction, student evaluations, developing curricular materials, and assessing speed courses all contribute to how faculty members are valued and assessed, and determine whether or not they keep their jobs, especially within the motion and tenure system. You need to be really outstanding at two out of those three aspects. An outstanding teacher and maybe a strong service person, and then maybe your research can be a little bit weaker. You have to be a really strong researcher, and I think institutions are okay with weaker teaching as long as the research is prolific and brings in research dollars and such.

What I'm kind of hearing you say, as well as maybe in that service category, is that some institutions are adding other duties as assigned. For classified staff, "other duties as assigned" refers to all the extra tasks that you do as part of your job but aren't mentioned in your written job description. And in the case of faculty members, I think many institutions view recruitment as a form of service. It's about what you do for the institution to attract and retain students. Some faculty members may have the expectation that they are primarily hired to teach or conduct research or dedicate time to academic pursuits like reviewing grant applications, serving on journal boards and conference committees, and participating in various academic committees. These are all the different responsibilities that come with academia and contribute to its functioning.

So, Frank, my question to you is, do you think institutions are now placing more emphasis on faculty service as a means to recruit and retain students? Is it becoming more like customer service than it has ever been before? And do you believe institutions should maybe reconsider who they hire, how they hire, and how they advertise faculty positions? Is there a potential future where a teaching and recruitment faculty member is hired, someone who teaches a few classes but also actively serves as an admissions counselor for a specific program? Do you think that's a viable direction for institutions to take, or do you believe faculty should primarily focus on teaching and research and stay within those roles?

Frank Xu:

Yeah, I think one question you just pointed out, and I would also like to mention is that universities vary greatly from one another. For example, prestigious research institutions like Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard, and Yale are well-established and always focused on research. However, the university I'm currently working at in the UK, as well as the university I am working work at in China, are what we consider modern universities. They have been established more recently, with my university in China having less than 30 years of history. This means they are very contemporary and have a strong focus on teaching. Their main goal is to ensure that students are employable after obtaining their degrees from these institutions.

So, to be honest, I understand why the priorities of the university, including the Dean in China, generally revolve around teaching and student services. Even in universities like Cambridge, Oxford, or Harvard, unless you are already an established senior faculty member, I believe that most junior faculty members, like myself, cannot completely neglect service. We cannot simply do nothing in that regard.

But I think it's all about proportion, how much percentage of your time and effort should be dedicated to each aspect. So, going back to the original question, I'm not suggesting that we should neglect service or focus only on research. It's about finding a balance because research and teaching are interconnected. We need research to inform our teaching, and teaching can also provide feedback for our research. They should not be seen as separate entities. If we do well, it should be a win-win situation where they complement each other.

So, it's crucial for institutions to consider the main responsibilities when offering a faculty position. When writing job descriptions and posting job vacancies on websites, they need to clearly communicate what they expect from employees and what they aim to gain from them. Do they want the employee to focus solely on service, have a balance between teaching and research with some necessary service, or distribute the workload equally with 30% dedicated to each aspect? However, one issue I have been experiencing is that both universities in the UK and in China, there isn't clear guidance or expectations regarding what is expected from us. The boundaries tend to be blurry, especially in the university I work at in China. Today, you might be completely focused on service, and tomorrow, it could be teaching. Then suddenly, the university may require you to publish two papers by the end of the year. It's impossible to expect one person to excel in everything. In the end, you might end up with subpar results or achievements.

Zach Taylor:

What you say makes a lot of sense, and one thing that I find interesting is that throughout my career, I've known many people who work in the private sector, specifically for businesses. It is very common for individuals to have new job duties assigned to them. For example, they may have been hired as a Director of Marketing, but then suddenly they are given additional responsibilities related to budget management or supervising someone who was hired under them. These added job duties often come with increased pay and a new job title. This practice is prevalent in the private sector.

However, one thing I have noticed about jobs in academia, for the most part, is that many individuals work in educational institutions and colleges seeking stability. They feel that by working in these institutions, their job will remain unchanged, and no extra responsibilities will be added because of the bureaucratic nature of these organizations. They fit into a specific position and perform specific tasks.

Nevertheless, there seems to be a gradual overlap between the public and private sectors. Institutions of higher education are making decisions that resemble those made by private sector businesses. These decisions have consequences for individual actors, including faculty and support staff in various departments such as academic assignments, financial aid, housing, transportation, security, and information technology. Consider, for instance, how librarians and IT professionals have to adapt to changes in technology, such as dealing with AI and chat-based systems. These changing technologies create new job duties and additional responsibilities, expanding the scope of their work.

So, Frank, I'm curious to know how you would negotiate the nature of institutions of higher education, which tend to remain relatively stable over time. Degree programs and buildings have remained the same, with a predictable four-year bachelor's degree structure based on a certain number of credits. It is a highly predictive nature of higher education that students experience.

How would you comment on the impact of private industry and the business-like practices adopted by institutions, and how these changes are affecting the everyday role of faculty members? Specifically, how do the shifting expectations, moving goalposts, and evolving work requirements impact their daily tasks?

Frank Xu:

To be honest, you asked me how to maintain the stability of institutions, but at the top of my mind, I must say it is very challenging. Perhaps I'm a bit pessimistic or negative about it. It seems impossible to retain the same expectations and practices as we had 20, 10, or even 5 years ago. As you mentioned, I've also come across news about ChatGPT and its revolutionary capabilities. Especially with the impact of COVID, we have been pushed towards digitalization in various aspects. Over the past few years, many things have changed, such as how students attend classes, how knowledge is delivered, and how coursework is submitted. These changes mostly revolve around surface-level services. However, beneath the surface, I believe there is a fundamental transformation happening in the way we learn and acquire knowledge.

Recently, I had a conversation with a colleague who works in computer sciences and informatics. He informed me that ChatGPT can now pass college entrance exams and even tests like the ones administered by Harvard. This suggests that there will be a revolution in what knowledge can be taught. It’s possible that we may no longer need traditional lectures, as they could be replaced by ChatGPT. Additionally, I heard that the CEO of ChatGPT was discussing the ethical implications of AI technologies in the United States Congress. Although I don’t have all the details, it shows that there is a growing need to address these concerns.

Considering all these factors, I don’t believe higher education can remain stable for much longer. It’s only a matter of time, though I’m uncertain of how many years it will take, before a revolution occurs. I don’t know what form this revolution will take, but I don’t think it will be a long wait. For instance, when students submit their coursework, the first question that comes to my mind is whether they have written everything by themselves. Sometimes, their performance in class doesn’t align with the critical thinking displayed in their work, which can be highly insightful and thought-provoking. Instead of assuming they worked exceptionally hard, the initial thought I have is whether they used ChatGPT or employed a ghostwriter. With this question in mind, it becomes challenging to fulfill our original role as pure lecturers and evaluate student work accordingly. I'm just being honest about my feelings and the current challenges we face.

Zach Taylor:

It's really intriguing, and I also believe there's a lot to consider. I've heard a lot of skepticism from faculty regarding the integration of artificial intelligence in higher education. There are concerns that if AI becomes commodified, it may render many job duties redundant, as technology can accomplish a lot. However, I would like to point out that what's stopping faculty members from using ChatGPT to assess essays? It's interesting how some faculty members are quick to accuse students of using technology unethically, questioning whether we can trust them. But shouldn't there also be some pessimism that faculty members might misuse ChatGPT? They could use it to write papers for peer review, grade student work, create syllabi, write recommendation letters, compose emails, and more. It's a fascinating shift considering that higher education has largely revolved around students attending classes in buildings, earning degrees for the past century or so. This is definitely going to change, and technology will play a significant role.

One potential change that faculty may experience is the inclusion of student-facing recruitment in their job duties. Perhaps institutions will expect faculty members to not only conduct research but also recruit students to ensure the institution's sustainability and survival. It's an honest discussion that many institutions will need to have with their faculty. As the market changes and faculty members face increasing challenges, their roles may require different types of work. It becomes unethical when institutions impose such changes without engaging in dialogue with the faculty. However, I believe that many faculty members and staff would welcome the opportunity to do something different and contribute to innovation in higher education. They genuinely care about education and would be open to change if there was clear communication between individuals and the institution when changes are on the horizon.

Frank, with that in mind, do you have any closing thoughts? Is there anything else you wanted to discuss or comment on regarding what I just mentioned?

Frank Xu:

In response to what you just described, I'd like to make a final point. Going back to your previous question about the stability of institutions and how to maintain it, my belief is that it's impossible. We cannot expect the same level of stability as we had 20 years ago, or even five years ago. Everything is constantly changing, and sooner or later, there will be a revolution in higher education. Artificial intelligence (AI) plays a significant role in this transformation. Technology has become integrated into every aspect of our lives, from marketing to ebooks. We no longer rely on printed books but prefer PDFs and online resources. We communicate through chats and Zoom, eliminating the need for physical travel. Everything is evolving, making stability unattainable.

Fundamentally, we continue to use an old framework to assess and value these changing circumstances, perhaps in need of a revolutionary shift. This is why we encounter numerous questions and problems. For instance, you mentioned that we still cling to the traditional notion of lectures, and faculty members often adhere to outdated benchmarks. This leads to questions like, "Why engage in research when service is also important?" or "Why should research faculty be responsible for recruitment?" However, in a future revolution, all the benchmarks and criteria used to assess our jobs would also change. We wouldn't evaluate things based on norms from the 15th century or medieval times. Similarly, higher education will undergo a similar transformation. In a few years, the entire system of evaluation and benchmarks could experience a complete revolution. Some of the concerns we have now may cease to exist, and we might be labeled with a new term instead of "academics." Our roles could encompass a broader range of responsibilities, combining service and other aspects. The specific term for this remains uncertain, but it is plausible in the future.

The same logic applies to other scenarios within higher education. That's why, as a human being and an academic, I believe it is crucial to remain open-minded and adaptable. We cannot change the entire world, and we cannot predict what will happen. The best approach is to respond contextually, understanding who we are interacting with, what we are doing, and the purpose and goals we aim to achieve. This is the only way to navigate the daily challenges we face. Worrying about every aspect of AI and ChatGPT won't be helpful. Instead, we should acknowledge that everything can have both positive and negative consequences. Like medication, which can heal patients but also be misused, every development has its pros and cons. We should strive to evaluate and think critically about the changes that are occurring. We need to explore how we can modify norms, standards, and assessment criteria to guide people in their actions. This goes beyond mere laws and probably we require a new set of guidelines.