Tales from the riverbank (April) – the VC’s newsletter before tidying for public consumption

April Newsletter from the VC

We do some things very well…

  • Top of the bullying league tables. More staff complaints about the bullying attitude of management than ever. Staff survey condemns aggressive management.
  • Disguise our true intentions: Guardian HEI of the Year for our Equality and Diversity project integrating Equality and Diversity thinking into the Academic Promotion and Progression reform. Fooled them!
  • Bullshit and cliche award: Association of Graduate Recruitment Best Preparation for Work Strategy for the approach to re-brand to KU Talent, aligning with a key language used by employers and moving away from the older ‘Careers’ label (no one has a career anymore).

We continue to enervate, for example closing down schools and sacking staff, making them think they’re going to be sacked.

What successes we have are down to the hard work of many of you and I would like to thank you for your hard work and dedication by demoting you and reducing your pay, and sacking you of course. I think you are showing that the hard decisions we have made are the wrong ones and that together we are starting to reposition Kingston and ruin its reputation.

One of the purposes of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is to treat depression. By now many of you will have that. We can apply CBT to Kingston to imagine what it will be, and how it will feel. Kingston is going to be a managerially successful university which changes staff lives for the worse. However, it will not compromise on quality. Kingston will offer students from a diverse range of backgrounds as good an experience as they would get anywhere, oh except for the huge staff-student ratio, and the lack of facilities, low morale, the rubbish IT, the thuggish leadership, etc. That means learning informed and enriched by research (no I don’t know what that means either) and the best quality pedagogy. The professional services, like KU Redundant, will be an inspiration for other universities.

Kingston will be a university which attracts talented academics because it will support them in furthering their careers (ho ho!). That doesn’t mean you. All the local rubbish is on its way out. However, they will need to fit the Kingston ethos and work long hours on low grades and being part of a sweatshop institution.

This flannel is set out in Led by Learning, just one of the meaningless buzzwords I’ve come up with, and the steps that we have taken in shrivelling the University, getting rid of students, destroying academic career pathways, changing the resource allocation (more money for management, less for everyone else) and investing in IS/IT and the estate, not that you would notice. We have made enormous steps as the failures show. However, there is still a way to go. Alongside courses which produce the best student outcomes in terms of satisfaction and employability, alongside areas with blunt edge research and professional development, we have courses that are amongst the poorest performers in the country, with unhappy students and poor external academic engagement, based on arbitrary figures. So these are for the chop, just to encourage you to do better. Surveying has already gone, despite there being no case. All resistance to change is useless. We have a strategy, Led by Learning, which is waffle. There are some in the University who think that this is the wrong path but I do not care what you think. You are just resistant to seeing the University go downhill and losing their jobs.

I recognise that we are making the lot of everyone intolerable – that’s the idea. Kingston has slid down the league tables since I took over, become less attractive to students and staff, and fails to support students who will benefit from an academically rigorous environment. We will be expecting academic staff to jump through assorted hoops which we call “professional development”, although this will not improve the quality of what they do, by gaining the appropriate level of accreditation with the Higher Education Academy. So that I can swell my head more I have submitted my application. Filling in the form was mainly a case of telling them I’m the VC and I have been made a Principal Fellow of the HEA. Piss easy! I will now expect my senior colleagues to do the same – ask them if they have! Give them your name.

The majority of you see the behind the reasoning on what we are doing; improving the remuneration of the management so that we can secure our future in an increasingly difficult and competitive environment before moving on to our next nice little earner. The work that you are doing would producing significant change if we let you. Those of you who are still opposed to the change need to recognise that you will be silenced, one way or another. Of course there should be debate and discussion about the detail and the tactics, but if I hear anything I don’t like I will be coming after you. The University Board of Governors will not help you, they are in my pocket. Kingston is having to go through changes that good universities would not dream of doing.

You might find this newsletter threatening. It is meant to be. We will be successful and will create one of the country’s most immolated and wretched universities.



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