The University Senate met on 2nd November, the minutes of which are on the committee pages of the staff website. Reading them one does not get the feeling that a new age is dawning following the eclipse of the old VC. The Acting VC clearly has a penchant for language that avoids saying anything, as noted below. In the quest for high league table positions, the Deans are to develop “a nuanced set of data metrics and market intelligence,” whatever those may be, and “the University needs to put students and the student experience at the heart of all that it does.” That raises the question of what lies at the heart of Kingston at the moment. Most of us would say managerialism.
Someone at the meeting asked whether academic staff turnover might be a factor in the low positioning of so many of our courses. It was a good question given the number of staff “retired” or fleeing to jobs where they are valued instead of bullied. The answer amounted to a comic elusion: “data analysis mechanisms being developed would ensure that important factors such as this were considered as part of future portfolio review.” Much like the response to the last staff survey. Anything that reflects poorly on the management is wrapped up in grubby blankets of flannel and tossed aside.
But can we see a small reason for some optimism? The students on the Senate complained they were not involved enough in Board decisions. The students who contribute to the politics of the University are generally supportive of the staff who teach them, so their speaking up could be good for all. But wait a minute: in response the Senate will put in place “a strong communication plan.” Where have we heard that before? That’s right, the contemptuous response to the last staff survey. Forget it.