More TOMfoolery

Since Ratty descended on the University he has been busy changing the “processes” — the way things are run. The notional reason is to improve the efficiency of our administration and prepare us for the harsher times ahead (already here). Obscurely named TOMs, these changes have proved more an underhand way to save money — getting rid of staff — than a genuine advance. Hence important facilities like IT support have gone down the pan. Whereas we used to be able to call on a technician to solve our computer problems the same day, we now have to log a “call” on a clumsy website and wait a considerable time for anything to be done. Apparently the few remaining technicians often have a backlog of over 200 jobs.

The TOM of the moment is the Student Management system. This has always had problems, not least because of the rotten IT systems which store the data. Whether these will change remains to be seen. What we can be sure about, however, is another cut to staff numbers, this time in administration. The plan is to chop 16 admin jobs, on top of the staff cuts that have already happened. Academics can look forward to even more administrative work in future, just when they are supposed to be preparing for the looming TEF, producing more research, earning more income; students will have fewer staff to sort out their admin problems.

Officially the changes are meant to enhance the “student experience”. Like the improved timetabling system? This TOM is one shambles in the making. One thing Ratty just doesn’t get is that more job losses undermines the already shredded morale of the staff, and if there is one central factor that impacts the students it must be staff well being. At present the majority are very unhappy and the University management has no interest in doing anything about it. Expect more havoc with this latest TOM — Total Organisational Mess.

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