Tales from the Riverbank – November

Dear Engaged Staff (and the other 90% of you – bastards!) 

The Rose Awards: The implausible awards to celebrate exceptional staff exceptional achievement were held on Monday 19th October at The Exceptional Rose Theatre.

The quality of the submissions for the awards was exceptionally high and gave the judges an exceptional problem in deciding upon winners. We celebrated the work of 38 teams, 40 of which received awards during the celebration in front of 2 guests. Bonnie Greer, our Chancellor, is fortunately completely ignorant of what goes on at Kingston so gave a heartfelt talk about how the work of people in the University changed lives.

I hope that we can make the celebration bigger next year so that we can recognise more of the exceptional things that happen at exceptional Kingston – start rigging your submission!

The Government Green Paper that was expected a couple of weeks ago has been delayed – like me, they don’t know what they’re doing. However we still expect it in the near future. Conspiracy theorists and policy watchers have fun wondering when the Governors will sack me. We know that a number of huge cuts are very likely to be included in the Green Paper (a green paper is green, as compared to a white paper which is white).

The rules will change so that it becomes easier for an organisation such as a Chinese takeaway to become a university and award degrees. This is designed to introduce more “competition” and screw up the system. There is a belief that universities are shit, especially places run by people like me, and that lack of competition means they are too expensive. A good excuse to cut pay again (but not mine).

A “Teaching Excellence Framework” will be introduced. Universities will be judged on arbitrary performance measures and those that do well will be rewarded, perhaps by being allowed to stay open. How the performance will be measured, and if it is possible to do so reliably, is a subject of much speculation, not that I care a jot.

The Competition and Markets Authority, yet another regulator, is currently turning universities into shops, so students can buy an education while browsing smartphones, insuring their car and having a cup of coffee. It is prepared to act against universities that fail to make money.

We (along with the sector as a whole) have recently been criticised by “Which?”. We have already acted to sell washing machines, kettles and other consumer goods, and work is continuing to ensure that we give our applicants and students the least amount of work for their degrees. Students pay for their education now. They should not have to work for it.

I have heard that there is some concern among colleagues that we cannot now make the students learn anything, for example the course content. What we need to do is wave the surrender flag in advance and to keep infected students in quarantine. If you have any concerns please keep quiet.

All this means that the best way to secure the future of the University is to do nothing and hope it all goes away. That means continuing with our current activities – chasing the league tables, helping staff get qualifications – anything will do – and accreditation from an institution that will probably be defunct soon. 

Away Days:  There is so much to do that we rarely get the time to do anything. Time to think and consider is essential, and is an important part of work, which is why I do my best to stop you. It is also a chance for people to get together. Backstabbing is an important part of having a great university (don’t turn your back on me). I think that every part of the University should have regular “down tools” and chat time, about 1 min a month is about right. Longer, more formal, think time is also essential in a university – which is why I don’t do any and do all I can to prevent you doing any. We have recently had “waffle days” for the SMT and for the Executive and Senior Staff (Heads of School, Heads of Departments, leaders of key activities etc). Both events were “themed” around a bloody good lunch and free drinks. There are many really thoughtful people in this University with ideas about how we should change. They are the ones we want to get rid off, sodding troublemakers (SMT excepting of course). It was really helpful to hear from some of them to draw up a redundancy list. There is a chance for you to hear about the outcomes at the autumn ‘Shagging our Future’ event on Bonfire Night (up in smoke).  We need to get better at pretending I am grateful for comments that come into the “ideas” box.  Let me know if you have ideas for how we can get better at hearing your ideas but not doing anything!

KUSSS:  As you know the University reached its meaningless target of going up 4% in the NSS last year. The University Board has agreed that next year’s target should be another target. The Board is really supportive of what we have been doing – yep, still getting away with it

Staff Party 2015:  The staff party tickets have gone through like the proverbial hot curry and there are hardly any left. We will just have to make it a bigger event next year! I hope everyone who is there thinks I’m great!

ToMs:  The proposals for the Student Management ToM have now been launched (no, I dont’ know wtf it means either). This is up the arse of what we do as a university and therefore involves a lot of peoples’ time wasted. Whilst we have to consider cost cutting we mainly have to concentrate on how we deliver better services that support learning for our students and academics. No doubt there are many good ways to do this, but I prefer to give the staff hell and turn us into a neoliberal nightmare. So do respond to the consultation – just make sure you go along with what I say. Even those bits that appear to be featureless blue sky like my mind are essential to the complete picture!




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