You have to hand it to Kingston’s senior mismanagers. They can produce content-free management-speak without self-consciousness or want of something not to say. Acting VC Stephen Spier, clearly bereft of any ideas, has already resorted to stale phrasing in his latest missive to us all. In the first paragraph we are told about the “sustained improvements” we must make in this “extremely competitive … environment” and the “need to be unstinting in our efforts”.
He assures us the SMT is on the case: they’ve had an awayday and a “vigorous discussion” and now “facts and figures” are being gathered. Were these not gathered a long time ago? It sounds very much like the SMT hasn’t a clue what to do and is therefore procrastinating. But of course, the management view that the staff are to blame is unchanged. It is going to “look hard” at those courses in the bottom quartile of the Guardian league table (this newspaper seems to publish the golden table in the eyes of the SMT). No prospect that the SMT will look hard in the mirror.
Has any manager at Kingston wondered why there is such a gap between the vocational courses in, for example, Health or Fine Arts, and the standard academic subjects? Is it because most of the academic staff are crap? No. Kingston has been a leading institution in the arts for many years. Students who apply to these subjects are highly motivated and want to study here. This does not necessarily apply to other fields, especially now the old universities are hoovering up as many students as possible while the reputations of the new decline in the face of the HE market this government is building. We largely cater for the least well prepared students; until we recognise this and stop trying to turn into something we cannot be, many of our courses will remain close to the bottom.
Once the threat to staff and courses is out of the way the rest of the dispatch descends into empty waffle about commitment, excellence, reviews and solutions — but no concrete proposals. Far from “updating [us] on the work being carried out”, we learn that nothing has been done.
Spier in a throwback to the last incumbent concludes by asking us to share our views. Well we know how far our views were taken into account before. Plus ça change.