Tales from the Riverbank – September

Dear Exhausted

In the 1773 Game Act the 12 August (I Googled it!) was designated the beginning of the hunting season for grouse, and hence became known as the “glorious twelfth”. This year the 12th August was pretty glorious as I thought it might be a good idea to have a hunting season on staff. Nothing like a good bang I say. Now let’s pretend there is good news about the University which we should celebrate.

The National Student Survey results were released on the 12th. Kingston achieved its elastic target of improving positive responses by a massive 4% to the key question “Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of the VC”. By selectively choosing the data I found only two universities with a larger improvement and this is the way to fiddle league tables. Some parts of the University did spectacularly well – Nutrition and Sports Science came top of their subject league tables with almost perfect scores, largely a matter of luck of course. But watch out if you fall next year. The full data is available on the University website here. The NSS is so important to us that I have included a summary table at the end of this newsletter, just to scare those of your below average. Reaching our target of 82% means that we have achieved the target set by the Board for the Fantastic University of Kingston University Success Share Scheme (FUKUSSS). So all staff will get an additional payment – too small to notice in your pay packets.
The piffling news about the NSS does not mean that we can afford to stop harrassing the staff. There are still too many subjects languishing near the bottom of their subject league tables. Not surprising really when I’m depressing so many of you. There are problems with course organisation and timetabling (me again!), and that assessment is not clear enough (yep, we’re losing all our decent students). However, our improvement this year shows that we can pretend to address these issues. Getting Kingston back to where it should be means more bullying, more bullshit, more threats to job security.

Town House
The Town House replacement was approved unanimously by the Council on 11th August (I put the frighteners on them!). The University is well behind when our policies are compared to other universities and the Town House is a key part of diverting attention from my incompetence. The design is wonderful and will transform Penrhyn Road into a building site for years. We are fortunate in working with well paid architects who are now working closely with staff on the detailed specification of the building (ie. ignoring all sensible suggestions). More detail is available here. We will be arranging a competition to name the new building The Whineburg Building.

We have not been inactive over the summer, that’s why it has been impossible to work. Students will see some significant changes: the new Student Union (we kicked out Surveying to make room), a new faith and spirituality space at Penrhyn Road (staff can only pray now), a transformed sandwich shop, a café about to be dropped into the John Galsworthy, along with a ton of shit on staff, new tennis courts and 5-a-side facilities to replace teaching rooms (we need a new teaching experience) as well as a new muddy footpath in the woodland. In a collaboration between Estates and the Learning Spaces Advisory Group, new ways of teaching and learning will be piloted in new teaching spaces (see tennis courts above) – one at each of the Kingston campuses. These are pilots, so feedback will be appreciated. KUSCO have been busy rolling out the extensive sound of drilling schedule.

Race Equality Charter
Finally on the 12th, we also heard that we are one of only eight universities to receive an award under the new Race Equality Charter Mark. It’s about the only equality we have. There is none for the staff in general, especially the ones in my sights. We were particularly commended for some of the work we do with the community, for aspects of our promotion processes (how do I get away with it?), and for development and leadership opportunities (hahahaha). I am very grateful to the team led by Tina Disenchanted and Nona McDuffer that put our submission together. It is great to be acknowledged as sector leading when I’m dumping on everyone.

Alongside celebrating successes the week of 12th August also saw the start of Clearing. We had some problems with our Student IT systems as clearing began, partly due to the cuts in IT support staff I’ve made. The systems not coping as Clearing starts is one of the nightmares that keeps university staff awake, other than me, that is. Clearing is still underway and we will not fully know the outcome of this year’s recruitment until we know how many have found somewhere better. The University kept a firm line on entry tariffs for students which should ensure a continued drop in student numbers. This means that we may be under our targets for home undergraduates, however postgraduate and international recruitment may balance this, but probably won’t (Who cares? I don’t). We are fairly confident at the moment that our final position will be somewhere.

New Staff
It’s not just a busy time for new students around the campuses but also new staff as old ones leave as soon as they can find a better way to make a living. Remember to prepare for new colleagues and welcome them, don’t tell them what a bastard they have for a VC!. See the latest tips and advice on StaffSpace for further information.

With all of these non-achievements, remember to consider nominations for The Sick Rose Awards. You can nominate me, or me, or the SMT (no, make it me); it is an opportunity to lie about the way we treat the staff and try and get another crap award. Please visit The Sick Rose Awards pages to find out more.

The key thing is that we are following our longer term strategy to harry and get rid of staff, which will never improve the outcome for our students, but why should I give a fuck. We are pretending to improve our reputation so that I look good. We are supporting our students better, and treating our staff worse. None of this good news has happened by chance, it is the result of a lot of nastiness, unpleasantness and the utter contempt of management for the values of the University, thank you.

As ever email me at your peril ideas@kingston.ac.uk



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