Universitas adminstratoris

It’s perhaps as well that Kingston has no Classics department, or the grammar of the above title might be challenged by a Latin scholar. For those whose grasp of Latin is on a par with Dissenter’s, the contention is that Kingston is no longer a community of teachers and scholars but one of managers. Indeed, we may longer be a university at all. We cannot be teachers and providers of student satisfaction, as measured by NSS scores and, soon, TEF ratings; we cannot be scholars when we have no freedom to think, to try things out, to fail (as will often happen), when the management is threatening many of us with job loss and demotion. When you are sick to the pit of your stomach you cannot be a scholar.

Phase 1 of the cuts is done. Geology and classical Music are going, Economics and Politics are shrinking, the School of Performance and Screen is merging with Humanities, apparently with much chaos thanks to the Dean Penny (not such a bright) Sparke fobbing off reasonable objections to new course structures. Human Geography stays for the time being and enough staff in this area have opted to leave voluntarily, so no redundancies. Not so for Politics; staff there are being thrown into the arena of “limited competition”, an unseemly and abusive treatment of loyal employees. Music lecturers not sufficiently in the groove for the new pop courses are taking voluntary severance. So more valuable staff thrown out with the violins. Further cuts are to come.

The fragmentation of Kingston into a conglomerate of higher education is most starkly illustrated by the renaming of FADA to the School of Art, returning “to its origins”. This is perhaps the clearest evidence of the breakdown in collegiality at Kingston. Of course it is in the new school’s interest to distance itself from the rest of Kingston, an institution of declining student numbers and reputation. Indeed such a move could be considered sensible positioning: if the rest of Kingston collapses, the School of Art is ready to become an independent college once more. Who knows, it may do so sooner.

Ghastly as the situation is at Kingston, we are not entirely unique. The Guardian published a piece the other day on low morale at UCL: ‘ “Staff morale at all-time low! UCL is being run as a business and not as a university” ’, runs a comment from the UCL staff survey. Yep, sounds familiar. David Colquhoun, honorary fellow at UCL and blogger , who has commendably criticised places like Imperial for bullying, has so far not commented. He describes the behaviour of management at these institutions as cruel. And cruelty is the best work to describe the total disregard and contempt for the staff, their welfare and their careers.

It may be a comfort to hear we are not the only ones subject to institutional bullying, but Kingston is more vulnerable. A radio programme the other night talked about the vapidity that creeps into governments’ pronouncements in times of decadence, Orwellian language intended to veil all in sticky candyfloss. Staffspace records Chief Architect Spier’s comment, “I am confident we will be able to move swiftly to improve our academic performance in these areas …” One very much doubts Spier is confident at all. He might think the SMT is moving swiftly. To the rest of us it looks like the headlong stumble of a lame horse wearing blinkers.

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Changes to the management

Readers of the Pollyanna missives on staffspace will have noticed that there are a couple of personnel (resource?) changes to the senior mismanagement. Hilton, the University Secretary, whatever that may be, is going after two and bit years. Most of us may be forgiven for wondering who he is; after one or two appearances on staffspace he rather faded from the scene. What little he has contributed has been either negligible, or, according to some reports received here, incompetent. No surprises there. Are any of the managers competent?

The other change is the educational guru. Following the demise of Eales-Reynolds, her place has been taken by Clarissa Wilks. Quite what her claim to management expertise might be is unclear. What is clear is her educational research record, which, as with her double-hyphened predecessor, consists of two publications.

What of the future? Well, keep an eye on Mad Mike Sutcliffe, SEC’s hapless dean. Stories of his unsuitability as a manager have spread throughout the University. In fact he is so bad this blog understands that his probationary period has been extended. By the high standards of management incompetence at Kingston, this sets a new bar of awfulness. Could a new dean at SEC be in the offing?

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For believers in the status quo

By the fantastic rockers Too Scared to Rock the Boat. Sing along to the link below.

When I’m at work all day I’ll go to a meeting
We’re under review our jobs are at risk may get the sack
Teaching’s okay my feedback is good I’ll be all right
Get somebody else as for myself I’ll stay on my back
Roll over lay down it won’t happen to me
Roll over they won’t sack me you’ll see
Roll over lay down it won’t happen to me
Roll over lay down

When I’m at work I’ll have that one-to-one meeting
Show them my skills, a list of my scores in their hand
Maybe I’ll bang my head on the table
Or run out the door bury my head in the sand
Roll over lay down I got no clout
Roll over gonna help the bosses out
Roll over lay down I got no clout
Roll over lay down

When I’m at work don’t think much of my colleagues
Keep my head down keep my mouth shut as before
Later at night drink myself under the table
Reckon I’ll lay back down on the floor
Roll over lay down the UCU
Roll over they’re a foreign country too
Roll over lay down the UCU
Roll over lay down

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Stoned yet again

We are used to the clumsy and inconsiderate attitude of the mismanagement at Kingston, but Simon Stoned, the new “head” (really a well paid contractor) of HR has gone one better. According to reliable reports, Simple Simon managed to park his car so close to a student’s that she was unable to get out. What’s more he broke her wing mirror. Instead of apologising, Simple just handed her the broken mirror and scarpered. Perhaps he didn’t notice that this student is disabled, leaving her no choice but to move her car to another space so she didn’t have to sit there all day. Well, there are an awful lot of things Kingston’s management don’t notice.

Will this student receive an apology and the cost of repair from Stoned? Or is it that Simple Simon says — FU.

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Revival of the drowned rat

So our erstwhile sacked (oops – disagreement with the BoG) VC, El Presidente (well paid sinecure) becomes head of Ofsted. Must be all that schools experience he had. Er …. Parents of school age children beware.

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Now we are Three

Three years have passed since this blog published its first post. During that time Kingston University has lost a few thousand students, many good members of staff, and a VC. Well at least one of those losses is a good thing. What has not changed is the shockingly incompetent management, and it is hard to imagine now that it will until a disaster happens, more of a disaster than the one we are watching unfold, that is.

All this blog can do is question the way we are going and provide a little entertainment along the way. Readership of Dissenters Blog has risen steeply over the last year and we are grateful for all your comments and support. Keep up the fight.

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