Tales of the riverbank – May

Dear Arses

Student Transitions: We are now into exam season, I annoyed some students revising in the Kingston Hill LRC. They were cautiously confident about the exams and told me to bugger off. They are worried about applying for jobs and entering the world of work, now I’ve turned Kingston into a crap university.

Much of the success of our students depends upon avoiding the mess I’ve made. Historically students largely came from privileged backgrounds and I am trying to return us to that. We are now in a very different world – more aggressive, neoliberal, and many of our students do not come from backgrounds which can ease them into a job. Kingston used to have a great reputation for supporting students from a wide variety of backgrounds until I came along.

To do that we need to make students feel welcome, even while we make the staff hate the place. We need to engage students with thinking about the “bullshit skills” that employers want. We need to develop students who can impress potential employers, maybe we can use them in place of our rubbish staff. They’ll be cheaper! Many employers recognise the need to diversify their work-force, Kingston University needs to diversify into cheap labour. Kingston is seen as being in the forefront of thinking about the wider curriculum, by the SMT if nobody else; which is why we regularly apply for awards, but don’t usually get them.

However we cannot stand still, and we can do better – which is why we are threatening all of our student support services. Many of them are fragmented because I’ve tossed a few grenades in amongst them.

Awayday: We had a very good SMT “awayday”. They all bored the pants off me but I was pissed anyway so didn’t really care. We agreed that there was no need to change Led by Learning, it was a good bit of bullshit, but we needed to do more about filling in a few of the staff. We will be moving to having open meetings every hour, and they will be shared around the SMT rather than me doing them all – I can only talk so much bollocks. That way there will be regular opportunities to spot the dissenters so you are visible to us. One of the comments in the staff survey was “Sod off you useless bunch of bastards” but never mind that, it wasn’t meant I’m sure.

Sustainability:Buzzwords and waffle are integral to Led by Learning. At our Sustainability Celebration & Award Ceremony over lunch on World Environment Day, 5th June, we will recognise how many vacuous words we can use to describe a freebie where we get to stuff ourselves. If you happen to know what the Sustainability Hub is all about, do get in touch:WTFis that@kingston.ac.uk

NSS:We have broken all KUL records for response rates on the NSS, shame the results are going to be shit.

Election: My next newsletter will be on the other side of the election. Whichever party wins (edit: Hurray it’s the Tories!) it is likely the higher education sector will be screwed even more. We will be expected to show that we can account for the money we get through the public purse – I can account for my salary and that’s the main thing.

What does this mean for us? It means that we have to carry on what we already do well – bullying staff, bullying staff and – er that’s it. We will have to work hard  to support the areas of the University that do not perform so well (not including me and the other SMT no-hopers) – I hope that we can soon say that there are no parts of the University with courses in the manure of their subject league table; and build on our excellence (hahahahaha). We have shown that we can “fuck up staff”, and we are learning to do it better. The move of Surveying and Planning last year was challenging (ie I stuffed the staff), so I am pleased to report that I seem to have got away with it so far.

Do let me have your thoughts, and ideas for things we can do to support students. This year we will be piloting a student initiative, “the Big Read”. Every student coming to the University will get the same book to leave unopened – so they all have a common experience. It will be My 10 Greatest Achievements by me, a contender for the world’s shortest book, another award for Kingston. I am sure that you have other interesting ideas that involve getting rid of me and all the other fruitcakes on the SMT but they don’t count. So up yours!




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