For this episode, we talk with an academic, practitioner and policy commentator whose work focuses on the complexity and velocity of the digital economy and who uses phrases such as “burning platform” to describe the state of universities’ digital landscape.

Mark Thompson is a professor of digital economy in the research group Initiative for the Digital Economy (or Index) at the University of Exeter. He is a former UK government policy adviser and is recognized as one of the architects of digital service redesign of the UK public sector.

In this interview, conducted at the Digital Universities UK event at Exeter, Thompson shares his concern that the sector is drifting away from its true north of research, teaching and impact (he uses Jeff Bezos’ idea of “day one”), citing statistics that less than 40 per cent of university staff are academics. He suggests reasons for this and talks about the need for leadership at institutional and government level and the prisoner’s dilemma of whole-sector transformation.


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