The undervaluing of academic staff — not to mention all the ancillary staff — at Kingston shows up in many ways. There are now too few support staff to ensure the smooth running of important infrastructure like IT, or even to keep the offices and toilets clean. Teaching staff have been so depleted that some areas are struggling to cover their classes. But the most telling indicator of management contempt is the way facts and the expertise of the staff are ignored in the interests of bragging rights for the University.
Nona McDuffer OBM*, who now sports the W1Aish job title of Director of Student Achievement, transformed herself into a pseudo-academic at EDI with her “research” into the BME attainment gap. She claims to be shrinking the difference in performance between White and BME students with her various initiatives to tackle exclusive curricula, unconscious bias and the like. Maybe these things exist, maybe they don’t; note, however, the implication that teaching staff are responsible for BME underachievement.
There is no doubt a gap exists, but McDuffer claims to have shrunk it almost to zero, yet offers no data in support. No serious study can get away with that, although lack of published evidence has not stopped Staffspace trumpeting the dramatic news. Coincidentally, there is work in the public domain (so this blog has been informed) on the subject which suggests the BME gap at Kingston is still significant. If McDuffer wants her claims to be taken seriously she must back them up. We are unlikely to see any such evidence. That is Kingston: a university where a glorified administrator with no research training and only modest educational experience can make unsupportable declarations and get awarded a tarnished gong around her neck; a university where the real academic staff have to do labour to get their research into reputable journals, in return for job insecurity and implicit insults from the management.
* Order of the Bad Manager