Consulting to impress

What characteristic defines the modern manager? If we use Ratty as a guide it must be the quality of never admitting you are wrong — no, never believing you’re wrong. The VC is all about appearance. While he bleats about the inequality between the achievements of white and BME students at Kingston, he is quite content to foster inequalities between the staff. All the protests and complaints over the iniquitous transition of grade 10s to Associate Professor are swept aside by our management maniac.

The latest bit of window dressing comes in the shape of a consultant to advise on the next round of transitions, due this May. According to those at the recent meetings overseen by him, he seems to understand the injustice of holding an axe over the heads of staff who have worked hard for Kingston University over the years and gained their promotions fairly according to the criteria of the time. He recognises that transition to AP is in truth a promotion (without more money, natch). Or as a logician might put it, a not-demotion. If you’re not promoted, you’re demoted, and tough shit as far as the University is concerned.

Our consultant, no doubt well paid, has, to be fair, attempted to convince Ratty that it is counterproductive, as well as shitty behaviour, to threaten staff with demotion in his vision of a Brave New University: he should scrap that idea. Ratty, however, like the conviction manager he is, was unmoved. The threats stay. In fact everything else stays too: the vague criteria that brook no interpretation, the watery meetings that leave PLs and Readers wondering what to do, the inconsistencies that have been listed but not addressed. There are one or two differences. More rounds are to be held before the final cut. Vaporous feedback will be banished, we are told. The University has finally admitted, via the consultant, that not everyone will make it — staff cuts always were part of the plan. New APs must have at least fellowship of the HEA, which is more than many existing APs possess. Another inequality. Transitioners will also be partnered up with a critical friend. These will help define what “good looks like.” But who will tell them?

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