Greetings pop-pickers, the new chart is out

The Guardian league tables for 2019 are out, reach for the bottle. Is it champagne or gin for Kingston? After a few years of shifting up and down a few places, KU finds itself 23 places higher and the SMT has reached for the superlatives. Staffspace informs us that we’ve leaped and soared — appropriate tabloidese perhaps as Journalism is in the top 10 (slipped two places … ssshhhh). Art and Fashion, long-standing stalwarts of Kingston, remain high in the tables, but no mention that both have also slipped a few places since last year.

No surprises the SMT are wringing what they can from the 2019 tables, desperate as its members are to justify their academic loutishness. Let’s give credit where it’s due, but is the reason for this upward shift down to big improvements, or changes to the way universities are measured? Aside from Pharmacy, Architecture and Sport, which other courses have ‘soared’ in the table? What about some of the other departments that have had the management treatment? Beleaguered and threatened History is down 23. Geography, subject last year to some serious weeding, has dropped 25. Music, a department that’s suffered more than most, is down a relatively modest 7 places. So much for refreshing Music by sacking a lot of good staff and wheeling in the popsters. English has plunged (how’s that for a headline?) 26 places. Alas, poor English! I worked for them, Horatio.

What about elsewhere in the University? Business, recently freed from the yoke of the joke from Holland, unplaced in 2018, has vanished from the tables altogether. Maths, closure imminent, has limped up two places. No reprieve likely there. Computing, which will swallow the leftovers of Maths, has managed a 16-place rise though gets no mention from the bosses. Well, Computing is a bit boring. While we’re in SEC, Bioscience has tumbled 12 positions. Someone call a doctor. Talking of which, how has Health fared, the apple-a-day of the VC’s eye? Oh rose apple, thou art sick: down from 19 to 48, another plunge — 29 places! This figure outdoes Architectures 27 upward propulsion, yet mysteriously goes unmentioned in the SMT spiel. Clearly some of the leaping has been off the cliff.

All this snakes and (handful of) ladders makes you wonder how Kingston has improved in the overall tables. There is a lot of scope for fiddling in the Guardian figures — student-staff ratio, entry tariff, continuation …  Continuation? Yes, that’s one of the new metrics that is supposed to measure the numbers of students who finish their degrees. Now here’s the interesting bit. The methodology and compilation comes from an outfit called Intelligent Metrix run by Matt Hiely-Rayted, wearer of seam-busting suits who just happens to be Head of Planning at Kingston. Could be the planning is planning KU’s way up the league tables. He has some form in fashioning favourable statistics. His value-added thing, which he calls a ‘sophisticated methodology’ in the Guardian although is anything but, was manipulated by Nona McDuffer to ‘prove’ the BME gap has narrowed. One has to wonder why Matt Hiely-Remunerated is allowed to hold a job at Kingston while running his own company, especially when one recalls how moonlighting academics were shoved out by Weinberg, now the Ofsted Rat. Two-jobs Matt should spend some of that cash on suits that fit.

There is one good change to the measures. The ridiculous NUS question that asked whether teaching staff are enthusiastic has been dropped. That was always like asking whether your lecturer is good-looking or well-dressed. Good riddance to that. Yet the teaching scores for Kingston have not improved that much, not enough to justify the change in table position. The main improvements are to the student-staff ratio and the entry tariff. Both are curious. With the reduction in numbers of staff, only the drop in student entrants explains the first: a shrinking Kingston is an improving Kingston. And the entry tariff has been falling in many subjects to recruit more students as applications decline. Has Metrix Matt pulled a statistical fast one?

Overall one has to question the value of these tables, even more this year with the changes. An article in Research Professional quotes an Imperial prof: ‘ “Given the change in methodology this year… any large shifts in position shouldn’t be given any credence,” Curry said.’ Maybe Kingston’s jump in the table, artificial though it may be, will help our struggling university boost recruitment and so protect the staff still here, but Spier’s staffspace bluster is fooling none of us.

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Kingston wins Guardian HE raffle

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Seeking Dissenter

They seek her here, they seek her there
In FASS and SEC, Health, Social Care
Stoney wants to break her so he’ll hunt her without rest
Cause he hates dedicated bloggers with a passion

And when she pokes her little fun
At SMT or Essex Man
He blows his top and slowly turns the colour of beetroot
Cause he hates dedicated bloggers with a passion

Oh yes he does, oh yes he does
He thinks we should shiver, keep our mouths shut
And when he gets his frilly nylon panties in a twist
He curses dedicated bloggers with a passion

They seek her here, they seek her there
They’ll get a name, of that he’ll swear
Yet it just won’t occur to him that Legion is her name
Cause he hates dedicated bloggers with a passion

Oh yes he does, oh yes he does
‘You know it’s very simple’ says our Simon
‘The lot of you will get the boot, I’ll sack you one by one’
Cause he hates dedicated bloggers with a passion
He hates dedicated bloggers with a passion

[With acknowledgement and apologies to the Kinks]

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BANNED — by order of the Management

One defining characteristic of autocratic systems throughout history, government and corporate, is the response to dissent of any kind. It is not to be tolerated, it is to be crushed, threatened, bullied, sanctioned, its perpetrators punished unreasonably. In contrast a democratic and civil organisation not only tolerates dissent, it is encouraged. Well, to some extent. Think of those politicians who seek their own satirisation in cartoons, even buying the originals for the walls of their palatial pads. That is the context of a healthy and thriving society.

So what has been the late reaction of the SMT to this humble blog and its criticisms and humorous excursions on Kingston University’s dismal management (after four years of existence)? Like that of the autocrats, according to comments circulating around the University. In Stalinist form, they have threatened anyone contributing to Dissenters Blog with the sack. The SMT has demanded that the UCU disown it. In management’s eyes you are probably a criminal for visiting this site. You have committed a reading crime; your thoughts are corporately impure. So it’s off to the gulag with all of you.

Healthy and thriving Kingston University is not, and we all know the reason for that — all except our infamous senior management. What would be the sensible response to this blog? The most sensible would be to take heed of the criticisms, as well as those implied in the staff survey, comments at meetings by those who dare, and so on. If the members of the SMT are unable to do this, the second most realistic response would be none at all. Ignore it; wear a fatuous grin and pretend it isn’t happening, as Peter Cook once said of the incumbent Prime Minister.

The worst reaction of all is the one they’ve made, insulting all the staff (yet again) and making absurd threats they could not possibly execute without legal action and terrible publicity. And the notion of telling staff what not to do in a university shows how far the notion of academic freedom has collapsed. One may speculate on who is the source of these SMT ructions. Could it be Simon Stoned, the non-academic shipped in to make a bigger mess from the mess left behind by past managers?

The Management seems incapable of seeing where the problems with KU lie. Yes, they’ve dumped a few of its hopeless members but merely replaced them with others equally hopeless. Meanwhile the beleaguered staff continue to receive the blame, and now so does this blog. No, not the blog nor the staff are the problem SMT if you’re reading this. The blame lies squarely with you.

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The Cleverly Brothers

Introducing the Cleverly Brothers, a duo of bright sparks hired by the poptastic Music Department at Kingston. Here is their new smash hit. It’s the only harmony you’ll get at KU.

Bye bye FASS
Bye bye History
Hello apostasy
We think we’re gonna cry

Here comes our Spiersy
In his grey suit
Along with Stoney
Ain’t they just cute
They’ve junked Tuninga
And Wortham too
They’re so inept
We’re glad they’re through

Bye bye Ron
Bye bye the other guy
We call that happiness
We think we’re gonna cry

Bye bye Maths
Bye bye Geology
Hello pathology
We feel KU could die

Bye bye KU goodbye
Bye bye KU goodbye

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Yet another SMT vacancy

Primary Practice Group: Higher Education, Bluster and Bullying

Salary & Benefits: Huge

Closing Date: 01/05/2018

Kingston University is the largest higher education provider in south-west London, or at least it was, with an annual income of around £200 million (at time of writing), so big management salaries are safe for now. Passionate about power, we the management believe strongly in staff carrying the can – ‘learning through suffering’.

From August 2018, we are establishing a new Faculty of Business and Social Sciences, bringing together disparate subject areas with fewer staff but no close natural association to save money. This will enable us to cling on a bit longer. The disciplines represented in the new Faculty include Business, Law, Social and Behavioural Sciences, Criminology and Sociology … no, really.

This is an exciting opportunity for a new Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean to piss off all the staff like the last loony from the polders. In line with the university’s vision, mission and aims, it is critical to provide visible leadership and strategic direction because no one else here has a clue how to do it. If you find you keep using arse words like ‘aspirational’, ‘pride’ and ‘excitement’ and phrases like ‘united by a shared, common purpose’, this could be the job for you.

An accomplished academic (at least one paper in the last ten years), with significant weight-throwing experience and a track record of successfully managing your CV, you will demolish existing strengths and shove around colleagues to upset everyone.  You will have a committed focus on delivery of excellence and talking endlessly about it.

A stimulating yet challenging time to join a University that is clinging on by its fingernails.  This is a great time to join our Senior Management Team to help grow our salaries, arbitrarily close departments and change faculties.

For further details, including required qualifications, skills and experience or the role, please visit: https://madcandidates.palaver.com quoting reference 3510 squids a week.  The closing date for applications is 12 noon (BST) on Tuesday 1st May 2018.

Kingston University always says it’s committed to equality and we value the diversity of our staff and students but that’s all for show.

 

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