The brutality of stupidity

If you ever wanted to see a synthesis of the ideas expressed in the fiction of Kafka and Orwell, you need look no further than the Post Office and this government. Kafka’s protagonists, accused of non-existent crimes by a brutal bureaucratic behemoth, a ministry of lies, have escaped the realm of dark imagination and become reality. For the poor sub-postmasters, only just beginning to emerge from their nightmare, there are encouraging signs that justice will be served, and hopefully adequate compensation paid; and the guilty, especially the egregious Paula Vennells, will be brought to account and punished for their malice and dishonesty. You’d think that the Post Office and the many other organisations who behave badly were run by daleks, but no, human beings are in charge. But instead of acting like humans, they are prepared to cause immeasurable harm to others to protect a ‘brand’, keep the big salaries and bonuses flowing and cover their arses. They knowingly made false accusations which led to financial ruin, imprisonment (a pregnant woman in one case) and the suicides of at least four who could not bear the stress.

Are there any parallels in UK universities, especially Kingston? Yes, of course there are. It’s a question of scale. Staff have not been illegally prosecuted in their hundreds, nor been victims of cover-ups of seriously flawed software (though Kingston staff have had to put up with plenty of dodgy IT). But at least one academic has been driven to suicide at Imperial. And the non-disclosure agreements that Kingston pinched from dodgy companies always suspend the threat of court action over the signatories. Universities around the country, including Kingston, have harried and bullied their staff, delivered summary sackings (see some past Blog posts), generally made our lives a misery. Who can forget the principal lecturer abuse in which they were made to reapply for their jobs, or those forced to reapply in a forlorn effort to save their livelihoods when management shrunk schools? Certainly not those who suffered under such a brutal regime. Think of all the bullying heads of faculty we’ve had here — Tuninga in Business, Edith Sim in Computing, to name just two, both long gone thankfully. You will no doubt have your own bête noires in mind. And what do the faceless ones on the Board of Governors do? Like the PO’s board — nod everything through and look the other way.

As with the Post Office, money and reputation are at the forefront of the machine minds of Kingston’s management. The stupidity of it all is that they, like the PO managers, think they can get away with their dalek contempt without causing long term damage to the organisation’s function and reputation. Too many times in the past dodgy people have moved on, leaving the ruins of their actions behind them. In the case of Vennells her past looks set to catch her up, a priest about to feel the flames of her diabolical actions. Spiers and co. may be too low profile to face the disgrace they deserve. We can but hope.

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Reflecting on my achievements in 2023

From: Vice-Clown Professor Sir Steven ‘Two Jobs’ Spier

Sent: 14 December 2023

To: All remaining staff and other peasants

Dear Colleagues and Fans,

As I approach the festive break, I wanted to take a moment from my enormously busy schedule (holding down two jobs is very tiring, you see) to reflect on some of my many excesses this year and to grudgingly acknowledge your contributions to my amazing achievements during the past 12 months. I think you will all agree that I have made further amazing progress in the transformation and reshaping of the institution, and that our reputation for innovation, entrepreneurship and speaking in long words has left all other VCs simply green with envy. I am regularly bombarded with messages from other VCs, who are desperate to know the secret of my success, and I have now employed a new PA to deal with all the fan letters I have been receiving on a daily basis.

Key achievements

A real highlight for me this year was the award of an overall rating of Gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), as well as securing Gold for student experience, student outcomes and student debt. I have been working flat-out to achieve this award on behalf of yourselves and it has enabled me to spend a very welcome wad of thousands on nice big signs and banners placed around the PolyUniversity celebrating my our achievement, including one hung on the railings of the small car park at the back of Pen Road, a banner which has been seen by thousands of passing pedestrians, leaving many in awe (I could tell from their tears). We are only one of 26 institutions across the whole country to achieve TEF Gold across all three categories and the only University in London to do so which, in my humble estimation, more than reinforces my reputation as the most dynamic VC in Great Britain, if not the world. I began to title myself the ‘Gold Commandant’ during the Covid crisis and it is now more than clear that this was a future insight worthy of Mystic Meg, and the TEF Gold award has now confirmed my destiny. It is a foregone conclusion that I will also soon be made a ‘Sir’ in a future New Years Honours List and I have taken the liberty to begin to use this title in anticipation of the inevitable announcement that will surely take pride of place in the esteemed pages of the Daily Telegraph, the University’s paper of choice. Just you wait. Rising directly from TEF Bronze to TEF Gold reflects a tremendous amount of hard work by myself in the Holmewood Command Bunker, assisted by Moron-Worthless, our esteemed Professor of Sleeping (around) Skills, and you should be extremely pleased my commitment to myself and my future skills has at least been recognised.

A major step towards delivering the Clown House Strategy came in September with the rollout of our Future Ills Skills programme across the whole first year undergraduate programme, despite the fact that no member of staff has an earthly what these skills are. But they sound good, don’t they? This was a millstone accomplishment, which will hang around many staff member’s necks for years to come as we begin to deliver a progressive model of education that will be the envy of the whole world and will help ensure that every student, whatever they are studying, is equipped with the essential seafaring skills they will need to navigate the high seas and oceanic uplands of a post-Brexit globe, flying the Kingston Uni flag in all corners of the world (and further increasing my chances of a Knighthood).

The initiative has been informed by the back-of-a-fag-packet research of our sector-leading Future Skills campaign (not Future Ills, as some of you have so unkindly commented) and, just last week, we saw the launch of our third Future Ills Skills report in a hired room at the House of Commons (always looks good, doesn’t it?). Those who attended were given a personally signed copy of the report by me, printed on high-quality and gold embossed paper and full of lovely pictures of smiling models students. Even the local MP, Sir Awkward Edward Gravy, attended, which was a big surprise given he was too fearful to even set foot in the Uni for many years after the Lib Dums hiked student fees and he was worried he would be lynched. He has now regained his confidence, and was most pleased to get his photo taken, as he has been having a tough time of it lately as leader of his, er, rather low-profile party. He was pleased to have my sage advice whispered in his ear, but sadly refused my offer to enrol him in my Telegraph supporters club. Silly man. As well as Sir Gravy, it was evident that there is now significant and visible business and cross-party political support for my campaign to become a ‘Sir’ so I can be just like Sir Gravy. I had a very nice telegram from UKIP in Wales, and the Independent residents group on Hove Town Council also sent a nice postcard calling for more Future Skills instruction in making sand castles out of discarded pebbles.

We have also progressed with the development of the Knowledge Research and People Institutes (KRAPIES), which are a key pillar of the Clown House Strategy and, in fact, without this key pillar the whole Town House would collapse into Pen Road and become a major embarrassment to my growing reputation as the world’s foremost VC (and renowned expert on architectural design, as well as Swiss cheeses). We have already held a series of events bringing together those academics who still have jobs with guest speakers to explore thematic issues and to acknowledge the divineness of my wise leadership skills. This year we have generated a number of large-scale funding pleas and recently secured some funding from a weird foundation nobody has ever heard of to support research in to Future Ills Skills, including how learning gain and impact can be measured using one of those little tape-measures you get in Christmas crackers.

We continue to deliver on our Sustainability Plan, whatever that is, and work on this agenda has been recognised with the student engagement award at this year’s Green Gown Awards. From now on all staff at Graduation ceremonies will be required not only to sing the new Kingston University anthem but to wear our newly designed Green Gowns, recycled from weeds and other vegetation found in the local Hogsmill stream (sewage permitting). Now that’s what I call innovative and world-leading.

Supporting our people

Yes, we do occasionally support our people. Much to my relief we achieved a fantastic response rate of 81 per cent in this year’s staff survey, which also saw our staff engagement score increase from 69 per cent to 73 per cent. Such a high response rate helps us to understand how strongly staff feel about my leadership skills and my enlightened approach to people management and cost-cutting and where we can improve. But I feel, frankly, there is no way I can improve on what I am doing already and clearly many of you completely agree with me on this assessment. As for the 19 per cent of you who did not respond, we shall deal with you in due course.

Looking ahead

As I set out last month, we are operating in an extremely challenging environment, accelerated through the rate of inflation and my determination to allocate more millions for the spectacular new buildings we intend to put up on the Middle Mill site at Knights Park. Our immediate focus is on actions to boost our student numbers and meet recruitment targets. We need to be able to invest in our future. To that end, as I mentioned last month, I have instructed my close SLT mate Dave Mac ‘the Knife’ Mackintosh (fondly known to us all as Axjob) to initiate some further reviews into savings that can be obtained through new rounds of VS and the slimming down of certain subject-areas. For obvious reasons, this has to remain top secret for the time being, but watch out for further notices during the course of 2024.

The challenging national context for the sector really does demonstrate the importance of having an ambitious strategy that will enable me to remain in post and make us an institution that is truly sought after by prospective colleagues who are desperate for work and by students who cannot get places in other HEIs. We all have a part to play in my success, and there is much for you to look forward to in the coming year as we engage in further ‘transformation’ (my favourite word) and move to yet another phase in our endless Future Ills Skills programme, increase our research and my knowledge through the KRAPIES, and further embed my values to help make Kingston an even better place to serve in.

I want to thank most of you for all the hard work and commitment you have shown to raising my profile throughout the past year and hope you enjoy a well-earned break. Make the most of it, and don’t spend too much, as you may need that money sooner than you think.

With best wishes,

Sir Steven

Professor, Vice-Clown and Gold Commandant,

Kingston Polyversity University

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The descent of man

As the year moves towards its close I can’t shake off the feeling that we are looking at the end of times. We know that climate change is hard upon us and we know the adjustments needed to our way of life are not happening quickly enough. Government is in chaos. More immediate, the state of universities, Kingston especially, is not improving and threats to our livelihood are ever looming. Spier and his shower of mismanaging Scrooges are fond of saving the worst threats until December.

Way back in the Seventies, when an academic career was still considered a good one to have, the BBC broadcast a seminal programme, The Ascent of Man, Jacob Bronowski’s personal view of the cultural development of mankind. This was recently shown again and those who weren’t around the first time have the pleasure of watching Bronowski’s spectacles glint at the camera as he delivered his thoughtful analysis of man’s progress, especially scientific. It’s perhaps no surprise that this programme was commissioned by David Attenborough, the last great man of television broadcasting?, when he was Controller of BBC2. Contrast that mighty programme with the current coffee-table offerings.

But Bronowski, as he pondered the future in the final episode of the series, was no starry-eyed messenger. He understood that freedom of the imagination was vital to human progress, but even back then he could sense how the West’s intellectual impetus was in decline — ‘infinitely saddened . . . by a sense of a terrible loss of nerve’. He worried that science so closely linked to and controlled by government would mean ‘the beliefs of the twentieth century will fall to pieces in cynicism’. That seems to me as good a description as any of what is happening in universities today. The notion of research, a form of intellectual play, a unique activity destined to produce far more failures than successes, has been turned into a form of accountancy. At Kingston people who’ve never had an original thought in their lives are made up to professors, and any number of incompetent managerialists have been promoted to senior positions. This is the real crime of Spier and the rest of them. Instead of guardians of academic freedom, the freedom to work without fear or sanction, they have become oppressors of knowledge and understanding. Obsessed with finances and league tables, consumed by the strictures of corrupt government, they preside over decay. Maybe they will eventually reflect on the damage they have done in their working lives, though I doubt it.

Bronowski was ultimately optimistic: even if the ascent of man faltered in the west, it would continue elsewhere. Right now it is hard to see where this will come from. Autocratic China? Russia? Somewhere else in the world? None seems likely. The rise of populism and small-mindedness, the rejection of knowledge in the west may go into reverse over the next few years. If it does not, mankind’s progress may come to a halt for as far ahead as any of us can see.

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Prioritising activity to boost my reputation: message to all staff from Sir Steven

From: Professor and Gold Commandant Sir Steven ‘Two Jobs’ Spier, Vice-Clown, Kingston PolyUniversity

Sent: 08 November 2023 16:55

To: All Staff Types and other Peasants

Dear colleagues,

There is no doubt we are operating in a particularly challenging national context, which has nothing whatsoever to do with my poor leadership skills or failing Clown House Strategy. That is why my ambitious and truly visionary strategy is so important, and why we need to work even harder to maintain my unquestionably high reputation as the UK’s foremost V.C. and the world’s leading architect (and expert on Swiss cheeses). It enables us to work towards and deliver a better future, not just for your careers but also to save my bacon, rather than simply managing difficult circumstances with the very few resources I have made available to you. Our transformative mission and four supreme values in the Clown House Strategy – inclusive, innovative, ambitious and enterprising – far from being fancy words I merely plagiarized from a textbook I found at Kingston Hill, drive what we are delivering, not just over a cliff or on to the rocks, but with increasing impetus (good word, eh? Almost as good as ‘transformative’. Took me ages to find that one).

The challenges facing higher education are unlikely to abate any time soon, despite the current financial model we have operated at Kingston being, frankly, unsustainable. I have spent millions on new buildings so that I can leave my mark, and legacy, at Kingston, and exciting new buildings are still planned, but – regrettably – tuition fees are still languishing at the £9,250 set in 2017, something we forgot to build into our financial planning forecasts. Had they kept pace with inflation, the fees would now have reached £14,000 a year, and I would have been able to build yet more ‘legacy’ buildings. At the same time, Kingston is contending with spiralling operating costs, and the financial squeeze hampers my ability to innovate and build yet more wonderful buildings in honour of my supreme leadership.

Student numbers

Of immediate concern in the current climate, in addition to all the damage this is doing to my reputation as a ‘transformative’ V.C., is that you have not met our recruitment targets for undergraduate and postgraduate students by some measure. What the hell have you been playing at, you useless sods? This is due to problems with our own processes, such as staff not working as hard as I clearly do, as well as changes to the market. We are addressing both. I have been busily reading the business pages of the Daily Torygraph, my newspaper of choice, which I am going to make freely available at all the main campus entrances, and which I hope to see being embedded into our Future Skills strategy by all staff.

Not meeting our student numbers directly affects our financial plans. I still need loads more cash to build lots more buildings, and to secure my future (and, dare I say, inevitable peerage). We are already changing our recruitment and conversion processes to deliver our recruitment targets, have adjusted Faculty and Directorate budgets (i.e. cut them), will exercise tight cost control (apart from the thousands of pounds of spending I needed to do on all the nice banners for my our TEF Gold rating), and, at least temporarily, curtail our plans for investment.

Process review

To begin addressing these challenges, I have already instructed the Execution Director for Students to convene a Conversion Task group (great title, eh? I found that one in a old manual left by my predecessor), which will cover both UG and PG recruitment, with an immediate focus on conversion for the January intake (yes, I told you, our mess is bad). I have also instructed Senior Managers to start pressurising offering the weaker and less able members of teaching staff, such as some of the old duffers you see around Pen Rd and Knights Park, a nice VS package. Cutting down on staff and saving costs in this way has always been my favourite option, and it is now a familiar tried-and-tested model at Kingston, which we like to roll out whenever we face deep shit dire circumstances. I have instructed my favourite bagman, Dr. Dave ‘the knife’ Mackintosh, to oversee this difficult but necessary process. Despite him being the oldest man in the University, if not the Universe, Oddjob (as I fondly call him), or Axjob as most of you have named him, has consistently refused VS himself, as he has plenty of experience and skills in cutting staff and even whole departments (for which I paid him a special bonus to keep him sweet). He has already set to work on identifying all low-recruiting courses that could be quickly culled. We did this before, and we’ll do it again! This is what Future Skills are all about – past skills employed in ever more innovative and Futuristic ways.

We are also conducting a very quick review of all our recruitment processes, and have already removed unnecessary criteria that hinder offer making. Basically, in the future, if a student wants to come here, we shall say ‘yes, you’re in’ immediately, no questions asked. We are that desperate, you see. We are also:

  • Undertaking a detailed review of our marketing, recruitment and admissions processes, and will recruit a few students to leave leaflets on buses, on public benches in parks, and at the check-out tills in Sainsburys.
  • Developing a Polyversity-wide strategy for overseas recruitment, which is now much more competitive given that every other University in the UK is doing exactly the same thing. It will also enable me to have more trips abroad and stay in nice hotels, something that is a vital part of this strategy. I can also test my Future Skills by visiting the best restaurants and tasting the local cuisine.
  • Reviewing markets, those strange things we claim to understand but we don’t really, and what we offer, focusing on those bits of the world with the most potential to boost numbers and save my skin. We shall leave KU leaflets at all major sites across the whole of China, India and South America, including at all public conveniences and on park benches.
  • Continuing to improve those programmes that are not performing well academically and therefore not attractive to applicants (yes, you know who you are, you idle so-called Profs). We envisage a radical slimming down as the outcome of this transformative process, ideally with just a handful of younger staff in each Faculty, all on fixed-term contracts. Simple.
  • Continuing to embed Future Skills in the curriculum, even though hardly anybody understands what these really are, and driving advances in knowledge exchange and research (still sounds good, though, doesn’t it?), to ensure we are sought after as the world’s leading institution at which the most talented people (such as myself) want to study and work.

Playing your part

So, staff types, the Senior Leadership community (as we now refer to ourselves – good, eh?) is committed to returning Kingston Polyversity, er, University – under my truly inspired leadership – to a position in which we can invest yet more cash in future inspierational (get it? Good, eh?) buildings and cut down on burdensome waste-of-space staff. Because of the shorter timeframes attached to all this, if we take the correct approach as set out by me (with a bit of advice on wording from Simon Moron-Worthless, our innovative Professor of Sleeping Around Studies), we should be able to remedy this swiftly. If we don’t, then I will have to hold all of you responsible, and take action accordingly. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. We have overcome all the great challenges and failures that have happened on my watch in the past and, once again, we must come together to navigate through the situation I have accidently created through no fault of my own.

All Senior Leadership Team members have been holding meetings with their teams to discuss the current situation in more detail and encourage people to seriously consider whether they wish to stay. If more of you do not accept our generous offer of VS, then don’t moan or cry when we put you out of our misery. Our Interim University Secretary, Mr. Adrian Parrot, has been working on the Heath and Safety aspects of this process, and we shall take strong action against any of you who decide to shout abuse at Senior Managers or make fun of the V.C.’s weird contact lenses. I know I can count on each and every one of you to support the vital activity needed to save my job and reputation. By coming together to drive these improvements I am confident I can keep positioning KU as the institution of choice for all who read the Daily Torygraph and therefore secure my place in HE as one of the most admired Vice-Clowns you have ever had the privilege to serve under. To ease the pain of what is to come, I have also placed a nice statuette called ‘Striding full-length female nude’, just outside my office, and I invite all staff types to book a time with my PA to come and gaze in wonder at this piece of innovative sculpture, a piece which brings me a great deal of personal pleasure.

With best wishes,

Steven ‘two jobs’ Spier,

Vice-Clown and Dear Leader

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Splash! Another Silver Leader jumps overboard

If more evidence was needed of the ongoing turmoil at the top of KU and the great disillusionment that has set in with the VCship of Gold Commander Steven ‘Two Jobs’ Spier, the following could be offered in Court, M ‘Lud. A brief news item quietly slipped out by the Uni Comms mob on 21 June revealed that SLT Silver veteran and Deputy VC Prof Martyn Jones has joined the growing number of managers who have had enough of Spier and his Clown House Strategy obsessions. Jones has handed in his resignation and is stepping down this autumn. Also going is the Uni Clerk Andrew Boggs. The lifeboat is getting crowded.

Jonesy the Silver surfer first joined KU after spells at the University of Kent and University of Wales. He was appointed Pro-VC for External Affairs at KU in 2007 and was promoted to Deputy VC in 2014. Prior to his time in academia he was in the British Army, something that impressed Vice-Clown Spier enormously (during lockdown, it was Jones who apparently gave Spier the idea of having senior managers assume military ranks to manage the emergency, such as ‘Gold Commander’, ‘Silver’ and ‘Bronze’ status, and so on, the kind of thing military-types seem to love). Spier and Jones also shared a common distaste for trade unions, and often moaned about how ‘ungrateful’ staff are.

However, as numerous KU managers have found, including various members of the SLT, Vice-Admiral Speer, who sees himself as one of the world’s greatest architects and as an expert on Swiss cheeses, likes to bang on about skills but has very few himself of any worth, especially managerial ones. He prefers to dump (sorry, ‘delegate’) much of the hard work of running KU on others. Poor old Prof Jonesy ended up doing loads of work. Just look at all his responsibilities while he was leading KU’s Directorate for Corporate Services: he had to manage Governance, Legal services, Brand and Communications, Public Affairs, Health and Safety, Risk and Business Continuity, as well as Development, Alumni Relations and Engagement. According to those in the know, the poor old Silver-haired Prof simply became worn down by the sheer burden of all this, and increasingly pissed off and resentful at the all the work Commandant Speer kept pushing his way. Who can blame him?

But Spiersy has clearly been thrown off course by the impending departure of another of his Silver workhorses. After all, he relies on the SLT lapdogs to give him new ideas and to massage his ego about the Clown House Strategy and ‘Future Skills’, which has badly lost its momentum in recent months. To add insult to injury, the news release included a notably petulant comment by Spier about the loss of his Deputy. All he could offer was that Prof Jones had made ‘a significant contribution to the University across a number of years’ and he wished him well. Oh yeah?

The news release added that, with his impending departure, and also that of University Clerk Andrew Boggs, the Uni will be ‘repurposing’ (one of Spier’s favourite words) the Deputy VC role to that of ‘University Secretary’. According to our sources, the ‘Secretary’ (who is yet to be appointed) will also be heavily involved in the ‘People Plan’, another incredibly exciting but meaningless plan dreamt up by Spier and a member of the SLT, as the Vice-Clown is getting desperate to get the Clown House Strategy back on track. We have had Plan 2020. Plan 2030. Now the People Plan. We can’t wait. Plans ahoy!

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Spiersy spins some gloss

Why the long face? KU’s VC and ‘Gold Commander’ Steven ‘Two Jobs’ Spier has been looking particularly glum in recent SLT and Board meetings, despite the happy chappy image he likes to put on in all the Comms photos he loves to issue. Why so? Simple. His ambitious plans to convert the Uni into a Polyversity, or ‘Multiversity’ as he likes to call it, are not going the way he hoped. Quite the opposite. Far from rising in Uni league tables, KU is dropping. A lot.

Spiersy has spun much spin in recent times about how, under his inspired and glorious leadership, KU is ‘going places’ and is racing ahead of all its rivals to become an institution that is pioneering a ‘new progressive model of education’ through a ‘future skills’ campaign. He dreams of eventually grabbing himself an honour from the government as a nice reward for all this and for his retirement. But the masterplan is looking more shaky than ever before, and he knows it. In their hearts, so does his lapdog SLT, who appear enthusiastic about the Town House Strategy in public and to his face, but increasingly lampoon it behind the Vice-Clown’s back (and they have their salaries to protect, of course). To add to his woes, the Board of Governors (BOG) are increasingly cynical about the Clown House Tragedy, sorry, ‘Town House Strategy’, as well. Some of the BOGsters have always held doubts about Spiersy, and those concerns have been reinforced by recent events.

Look at recruitment. Spiersy and his close mates persuaded themselves that investing in big buildings rather than in staff would somehow magically draw in loads of student applications, all stunned and in awe at the sheer size of the Clown House and excited about big plans for a new giant Middle Mill building project. But Undergraduate and Postgraduate recruitment is looking poor. Recent panicky Board meetings have been given some dire figures which show a number of Faculties failing to meet their Home UG targets, with FBSS – to give one example – 13% behind target. And FBSS was one of the Faculties that was culled and slimmed down on Spiersy’s orders! Now the chickens are coming home to roost. Why would students want to apply to a Faculty that has had so much damage done to its reputation? KSA is not faring any better. It is 12% away from Home UG target. Two other Faculties are also struggling. The figures for International UG recruitment are also looking grim. Both FBSS and KSA are reportedly 9% behind target.

At Postgraduate level, PGT Home applicants are very weak for all Faculties across the Uni, and PGT International applicants are also looking very poor (FBSS is 20% behind its target and HSSCE 7% behind). The Uni’s Finance Committee have now started pressing the SLT for updated figures on projected numbers, as they sense things are looking very dark, and the finance team are hinting that a new plan should be drawn up to now include ‘some re-profiling of targets’. That is polite talk for ‘bloody hell – things are looking really shit’. Spiersy’s promises of great numbers for September are plain nonsense and everybody in the know sees this, even if he refuses to face up to the fact. Let’s be clear: this is all happening on his watch and because of his own crappy managerial strategy.

And consider the latest league tables. To add further misery to the overpaid Vice-Clown’s woes, KU was ranked joint 87th out of 130 institutions in this year’s Complete University Guide league table. Yep: 87th! The fact is Spiersy’s ‘flagship’ Uni has moved down a stunning 9 places in the overall rankings from last year. Yes, that’s right – let that sink in: KU has crashed by 9 places and gone into embarrassing reverse. Predictably, and hilariously, the KU Comms team issued a big piece of typical Spier spin on this, which tried to put a positive light on the results – ‘there were a number of strong subject-level performances’, blah, blah, blah. But nothing can hide the obvious truth that, under Spiersy’s supreme but tragically unenlightened VCship, KU is falling into serious decline. The Comms spin put out on the Uni website included a comment from the man himself, where he said that while moving down the table nine places was (clears throat) ‘disappointing’, there were still ‘positives to be taken in a number of areas’. You could hear the laughs across the whole Uni, if not the whole HE sector. Who does he think he’s kidding?

Regurgitating some of his favourite managerial-speak from his dusty Kingston Hill ‘How to manage’ textbooks, ‘Two Jobs’ also said it was ‘clearly a disappointment to lose some momentum from our upward trajectory in recent years’, but ‘improvements’ in a number of subjects and overall metrics ‘are encouraging’, and he was confident KU could still deliver on its TH Strategy. Confident? Does he really believe all this desperate rubbish? Sadly, we suspect he probably does.

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