Tales from the Riverbank – May/June

Dear 14.5% Poorer

The last two weeks of April have epitomised my foreign fun trips. First I travelled to North Carolina, where UNCC’s (University of North Carolina in Charlotte – quite fancy her) plied me with plenty of grub and booze. Besides getting rat-arsed there were intensive meetings sharing practice and ideas in student support, higher education research – lots of management waffle that made me feel quite at home. It is always stimulating to visit another institution, especially those who treat me well, give me champagne, etc. Gives me different ways of thinking about issues, like how do I get to my room in this state.

After leaving the US I had one night at home, a day lolling in the office and then flew to SE Asia, where I am joing a huge party, two days in Malaysia and two days in Singapore (and you know what they say about parties out there? Ooerr missus). These trips help cement my arse to an aircraft seat and relationships which benefit me. They also give me an excuse to claim there’s not enough cash to give you bastards a pay rise. It’s win win for me.

We want to strengthen our culture of philanthropy; the more money given to me the better. This year, for the first time, we are encouraging our July 2016 graduating students to make a donation to me, even though they’re completely skint with massive debts. In the run up to the graduation, graduating students will be pestered to make a gift of £3 to the University via text. Each donation will be matched 100% by alumni (if they’re dumb enough) and all of the money will support my mad ideas. This is about participation, about building a culture of giving with me taking. All students that donate will be able to pick up a ‘class of 2016’ tote at the ceremonies (big effing deal you cry). I hope you’ll join me in fleecing graduating students and showing your appreciation for their wonderful compliance.

Given the improvements that we pretend to have made, it is disappointing to see the recent Complete University Guide league table where we have slipped 4 places to 108. I do not think we feel like a university that is at position 108, not on my salary. We will do an in depth analysis of the data to understand why, then blame the staff. In a ranking you do not have to do well (I’m always crap) you have appear to do better even though you’re not.

Reputation increasingly hinges on two things, both of which we need to improve. Student satisfaction and research. Although student satisfaction has improved, I still hear of students not getting all grade As, and of staff not working 24 hours every day. These events put everyone at risk, except me and the SMT arse lickers.

I am not gloomy because it makes no difference to me. As a community, staff and students, we have much to be proud of – just not the management (up yours suckers!) Learning is not just for students! As part of the National Campaign for Learning we will be running a Learning at Work Week event (16-20 May). There will be timewasting sessions that encourage staff to hang around at pointless events, struggle with their sense of self (and I hope have a nightmare at work). The official theme of the event is ‘CONNECT’; to encourage participation there will be a “goodie bag” (containing your P45s) for the first 20 photos posted on Dribble with the theme “CONNECT. I know – talk about barking mad!

I look forward to your comments on the issues I have raised here, either to the ideas box, or on the BigBrother page. I will be back in the office properly next week – if I am less coherent than usual (hard I know) I hope that it is just that I’m asleep beside a pool at a posh hotel spending your pay rise.

The White Paper on Higher Education has been published; thank god I’m away all this year. I’ll skip all the shit, this is what it means.

We’re fucked, ie, there will be more competition and I’m turning Kingston into the worst university in London and beyond. Kingston is therefore screwed!

Still, not to worry. We are the University of the Year in the widening participation in HE awards, amazing since I’ve been trying to shrink numbers since I descended on you from a great height.

We are banging endlessly on about taking a lead in areas recognised as crucial, like the BME attainment gap, but not actually doing anything.

Many parts of the University are “second to none” (I’ve put it in quotes because I don’t believe it). We are developing the most staff-bullying Business courses in the country. There is much to be proud of.

However there are some areas where we do not do well enough. Most people in the University are doing a great job, or so I like to pretend. However we still have too many people who put all of that effort at risk. People who don’t give grade As to students, expect them to work, fail to deliver good teaching (ie don’t get good marks); they put the future of the University at risk and I’m going to get you. We may not have bullied you all enough in the past. The White Paper and Bill make it clear that we do not have much time to impose an even more hostile neoliberal regime on you all. They also make it clear that if we make life insufferable to all staff (not including management) we will be recognised and will make us a highly successful University (VC’s salary rises steeply every year).

We want to stay broad in who and what we teach (except for the schools we cut), to bullshit about teaching, research and engagement in the community. It is going to become harder to support areas which are not fully contributing to the health of the University. Yes, I’m coming for you! We have plans for expensive and unsuitable buildings and are developing ambitious academic investment plans (aka closing you down). In many ways, the changes in the HE environment mean that this is a tipping point. It’s a long way for you to fall.

How do we ensure that we take advantage of the new regime and ensure that those few areas of poor practice do not hold a great University back? We sack you of course.

Finally, thanks to me in helping Kington to rise 9 places in this week’s Guardian University Guide rankings!  I’ve forgotten those Complete University Guide arseholes already.

Yours threateningly


PS 1.1%? You don’t even deserve that you miserable excuses for academics


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