Tales of the Riverbank – January

Welcome to 2015 – Hapless New Year. Janus the Roman God of transition looked forwards and back. A lot of people call me “two-faced” nowadays! – not surprising when I call you all “great” on the one hand, and threaten you on the other. Just call me Janus the Anus!

The University ended the year with good news. We did well in the REF (Research Excellence Framework), the rubbish 5 yearly exercise which ranks the research performance of all universities. The key outcomes for the University were that we hit our target – which was for a “Grade Point Average” of 2.6, in fact we scored just over 2.7, that’s a 50% improvement! As a result we went up in the research league tables which will help my chance of a gong next year. Mind you, the THE adjusted table position, accounting for the low percentage of staff we submitted, puts us well down. We are great game players at Kingston. Details can be found here.

The performance in the REF is a result of much rigging and time wasting – especially by all those researchers who were not submitted – gives me an idea for another performance measure. The successes of the University are communal, except for those who don’t belong.
Our ambition for the future is to continue to obsess over league tables, increase the numbers who fear for their jobs, and the numbers playing the REF game.

Universities used to be places which teach, research and support the local economy with their expertise. Not any more. So it was amazing that at the end of last year we were short-listed for two awards by the Times Higher, for Widening Participation and Entrepreneurialism and we came away with the rare accolade of ‘highly commended’ for the former. Goes to show you don’t have to be any good to win awards. We will be bragging (a lot!) about all this rubbish.

It is of great concern that across the country students from a BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) background do less well than white students. We are going to do something about it and have employed people like Nona McDuff, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, to produce a stack of waffle and documents galore to pretend that we are. Please let me know if you have any ideas you would like to contribute to this work, but don’t say anything about money, support, or job security. Things like that do not matter anymore.

The New Town House building proposals were submitted to the Local Authority for planning permission in December. We are working closely with the Royal Borough to explain that shiny expensive buildings and glossy brochures are more important than academics and their pay. It will, like, enhance the local “street-scape” man. Appearances are everything.
Outreach is important to the University. We will be starting an exciting new Saturday Engineering Club, following the Saturday Arts and Design Club and the Saturday and Sunday Staff Working Club. Yes, staff will no longer be entitled to a day off. I am also planning to set up a Holidays Working Club. We need to interest more people in careers in Engineering and Technology, while putting them off a career in universities.

Looking back we have much to be proud of. Falling student numbers, stressed and demoralised staff, lousy IT and inadequate support systems. We are a university that is doing the hard things – making it tougher to educate students in an economy needing more well educated citizens.
Looking forward we are taking on some big challenges, internally with undermining our staff, to focus solely on NSS results and research league tables, but also flannel on about key issues such as the attainment gap.

So, welcome to 2015 – I really cannot think of anywhere I would rather be than Kingston University. But I bet you can.



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