Tales from the riverbank – August

Dear Demolished

August; and a little time to digest the events of the past few weeks. Brexit, a new Government, a change of Prime Minister… but I’m still here!

These are not the only momentous changes in the UK over the past few weeks. The observant amongst you may have spotted that the University Town House has gone! (Working on that one.)

Town House: The demolition of the Town House is very tangible evidence that my policy of general destruction is underway. It has taken longer than I would like, however various bits of heavy machinery (L-J, Ronnie, etc) have flattened the hopes and aspirations of many staff.

Penrhyn Road: There are other significant changes at Penrhyn Road – all the car park spaces are going so you will all have to pay the council to come to work. New chemistry labs won’t have many students in to see demonstrations of techniques in detail from their lab benches. Students taught in the labs will be equipped to walk into any bank in the world and beg for an overdraft to survive. A new teaching and public access science space is being created on top of the rubble where the Town House used to be. The Jacqueline Wilson Hall is being transformed from being one of the least liked lecture theatres in the University to an even worse one. We will also be teaching Science from the back of a lorry (that’s what you get for shit NSS scores).

We are not forgetting our other campuses and will start working on them soon – there are plans for major demolition on Knights Park and Kingston Hill. Our major constraint is the lack of decent management but there is no space for anyone any good at Kingston. This may well mean moves to unemployment for some in the short to medium term.

Buses: As well as the buildings we will be transforming how we get between them. Our ageing diesel fume producing buses will soon be replaced by a brand new eco-friendly pedal buses.

Reputation: Yes, it’s getting worse. We don’t have the cash to do all this, especially as we also want to invest in academic programmes and more managers and my pay rise of course. The key to this is attracting sufficient students to the University. Too many students at Kingston are learning in areas which are at, or are near, the bottom of their subject league tables since I took over – coincidence that. We need to pay much more attention to why this might be and the causes of poor performance other than my lousy management. The areas which have done well, and those that have climbed out of the depths of the league tables have done so by paying serious attention to what students have been saying. There are areas where students have consistently raised concerns about issues such as the amount of work, the difficulty of remembering stuff for exams, the lack of fun and free booze in lectures. Our intention is that there will be no disciplinary areas at Kingston in the bottom one percentile of their disciplinary league table – well, can’t be too ambitious.

Brexit and HE: It is impossible to write without waffling about the implications of Brexit and the new Government team. The tone of the referendum, and the result, has left many international students and staff with the impression that the UK does not want them. Actually I don’t want the staff. There could be good things or bad things. Alternatively there could be bad things or good things. We have been messaging all our international student applicants to reassure them of the warm welcome they will get at Kingston, and warning all the staff of a cold future. Brexit may also have an effect on Clearing means Clearing. The best way for Kingston to get away from being buffeted by the uncertainties of the external world is to destroy itself, which is where I came in.

I still think that in spite of all the challenges we will be facing that Kingston is and will continue to be a very special university, just not a very good one. We have a loud mouth, and are known for making a lot of noise on things that matter but without actually doing anything.

The Sick Rose Awards 2016: Thank you to everyone who took time to blow your own trumpets. You’re learning something from me already.

Graduation: Each year at this time I tell those going on holiday to get back to work, and am reminded that many of our staff are not on holiday, because I’m working you hard for fear of your jobs. I am writing this during graduation week. The town is full of graduating students, proud of their blue gowns (aren’t they black? – PA), whose lives have been transformed by your efforts despite what I’m doing to you. Whatever you do, be it student facing or not, you won’t get much joy out of me. Any real affection you might have had for the University has long since gone.

Great news.



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