Tales from the riverbank – January

Dear Walking Wounded,

I hope that you had a good break, a leg or something more painful. I spent the first few hours of Xmas morning up to my elbows in cold grease ‒ must stop using those hair products. I am sure that “dumb machines” have a malevolent streak, but enough of the SMT. Many people had far worse flooding over Christmas and the New Year; there will almost certainly be University staff, families and close friends who were flooded with misery thanks to my management.

We are now into 2016 which is going to be just as shit as the last few years have been for Higher Education. We will be submitting the University vacuous response to the Green paper – and waiting to see whether new legislation brings opportunities to turn the screws on you lot. Whatever the detail of the new policies the best way for us to ensure the future for the University is for me to resign. But I’m not going to. From 2010/11 to 2013/14 Kingston, managed by me, reduced in size by 12%. The University of London Colleges, not managed by me, all grew. We are simply facing a competitive environment where universities can dump on each other, which is why I’m getting in first and dumping on my own doorstep.

We have been doing the right things. The changes we have put in place mean that we have been able to put more funding into management activities and salaries, we have plans to demolish the estate (though that takes time) and we are hinging everything around our National Student Survey. The University is slowly being “redesigned” (nice euphemism that). The Deans sit on the Senior Management Team and I sit on everybody else. The new funding system (the Resource Allocation Model – RAM it right up you lot) means that where the money goes is clear – into my back pocket mostly, and there is a commitment to increase the spend on the “back office” (my arse) and cutting funding to academic activities. Last year we managed to push money back to the Faculties (23p) and we are budgeting to do the same again. However there are still “back office” things to do, which means that we have to do them more efficiently (sack staff), or find things to stop doing (employing staff); which is why we are going through the “TOMs” (Total Organisational Mess). Kingston has been good at generating surpluses in the past – and I’m good at getting rid of them. Surpluses are essential for long term pay increases for management, however we have to get the balance right between that and a new shag pile (ooerr missus) for my office.

It is all about saying we’re proud of our students and staff and the impact that university life has on people. The Non-Talent Awards are a Student Services initiative designed to bluster about Kingston and make me out to be a great boss. Never mind about future leaders, just worry about me. Please encourage students to rubbish their lecturers. That’s what £9000 a year earns them the right to do. Apply via https://mykingston.kingston.ac.uk/ofuc/BLIND/What-Achievements/TheTalentlessAwards/Pages/HowtoEnter.aspx by 7 February. In addition, the staff award acknowledges Kingston University lackeys (teams or individuals) who have shown a corporate outlook and don’t complain. There will be an awards ceremony in March which all of the brown noses will be invited to.

The New Year brings some changes to the Senior Management Team (going through them like a dose of salts). Mike Sutcliffe joins us as the new Dean of SEC – Mike is a Chemical Engineer and must have got the sack from the University of Manchester – why else come here? This means that Lucy Jones steps down as Acting Dean; Lucy has done a great job, which is why I am elbowing her aside. She will continue to take the lead across the University on a number of worthless projects – including our institutional Ribena-Pigeon application. The Ribena-Pigeon charter is an award for award collectors. We want to be known as a university that takes awards seriously, if nothing else. We are gaining a reputation for our activity in addressing issues. Issues are what we are about, certainly not education.

Martin McQuillan, terror of FASS will be moving to full time as PVC Research and stepping down as Dean – sighs of relief all round in FASS. We have an ambitious Research agenda, impossible to meet but I’ll enjoy bullying you to do so. Simon Morgan Worthafewquidmore will be continuing as Acting Dean of FASS. Much of the disastrous fall in student numbers between universities is happening in the areas taught by FASS, largely classroom based Humanities and Social Sciences (poncey farty subjects). It is easy to add students to a classroom, or lecture theatre, impossible to teach them with a skeleton staff. We will need to do some detailed planning to ensure that the courses we provide stink and put off the students. Martin and Simon have already begun this.

So, Happy New Year (I’m laughing my arse off here). Lots of horrors, but we are fortunate to be doing something really worthwhile – changing people into depressed souls and places for the better through our learning, research and enterprise activities (hahahahahah)! Do piss off, or let me know if there are issues you want me to invent in a future newsletter.

Yours,

Jools (crazy as ever)

 

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