27 February, 2007

The bureaucratic run-around

This morning, armed with my contract and my passport, I set out to register at my new academic home. I was told that I needed to go the International Office, which proved to be the starting point of a rather long and convoluted morning of being shunted around campus:

  • The staff at the International Office tell me I need a student number from Biographics department.

  • I head downstairs to the Biographics department, who tell me that before they can give me a student number I need to go to the Science Faculty Office to get the relevant form.

  • Across campus at the Science Faculty Office, after some confusion I get given a form, which seems more like a student degree application form than anything else, and get told that at some point I will need to pay a fee to ‘unblock’ my registration.

  • Back at the Geology department, after checking that I’m not literally on a wild goose-chase, I fill in the sections of the form which actually seem relevant.

  • Back to Biographics, who tell me that the form needs to be stamped by the International Office.

  • Upstairs at the International Office, they stamp my form, but tell me that my account must be unblocked my paying the fee at the Finance Office.

  • I venture the other way across campus to the Finance Office, where I queue for 20 minutes or so to pay the fee.

  • Back in once more to Biographics and finally get my student number.

  • Return in triumph to the International Office – they give me yet another form to take back to Finance (I’m starting to think that my first visit – and payment – was unnecessary, but no-one seems sure).

  • After shuttling between a couple of people in the Finance Office, they tell me I am now ok to register at the Science Faculty Office.

  • I return to the Science Faculty Office, where they discover my account is still blocked. After 10 minutes of phoning around (what a novel concept!) I finally get registered.

I was an undergraduate at a University that has had eight centuries to perfect its administrative opacity, but I have to admit, I’m thoroughly impressed. At least I can say that I got some exercise this morning, and got a lot of practice in finding my way around the campus.

1 comment:

Thermochronic said...

When I started my current job I had to provide a copy of my marriage certificate in order to get a parking permit. What I loved was that the person behind the counter was surprised that I hadn't thought to bring that with me. You think enough new people show up every year at most universities that they just have some "here's what you need to do" checklist...well, we can dream.