Post on Mismanagement in the Department of Politics

Following a petition from several member of the Politics dept, the blog has decided to take most of the post down. The principle accusation of the contribution, presumably from a member of the department, is that the Head and the Deputy Head allocated an unfair proportion of research students to themselves. None of the comments below confirm or deny this. Regarding the rest of the post, it is a personal view of the author. However, Dissenter’s Blog is not intended to be a vehicle for unfair or unjust attacks. So in view of the petition below, the post has been edited.

Further to the claims of this contentious post, figures sent to Dissenter’s Blog, show that Politics has 31 current research students distributed between 13 academic staff. Of these, 5 are supervised by the head of department, 12 by the deputy head. So it appears 58% are supervised by the head and deputy head together. The Blog welcomes comments to support or refute these figures.

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Kingston University’s Department of Politics was in 2017 ‘restructured’ as part of Plan2020, meaning that it was downsized through redundancies from 18 to 14 staff (14.4 FTE to 10.4 FTE). Although this was marketed by KU senior management as a means to improve efficiency, the results were dire. According to the Guardian league table, student satisfaction with Politics teaching fell by nearly 5%, from 79.2% in 2017/18 to 74.3% in 2018/19. The Politics Department overall did register a tiny jump in the league tables, all the way up from 75th to 74th place. But this was in the same period when the university as a whole rocketed up from 81st to 58th place. Of course, KU’s rapid rise in the tables was because the methodology by which the tables were calculated was changed, courtesy of the Guardian’s league table compiler Matt Hiely-Rayner, who by a complete coincidence, was also Head of Planning at Kingston University. Thanks to Hiely-Rayner’s moving of the goalposts, some KU departments made rapid climbs up the league table. Politics should have benefited too – after all, its Student to Staff Ratio improved from 18.1 to 16.5 in the table after losing four full-time staff-members ! But even all this fiddling of the figures can’t hide Politics’ underperformance.

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22 Responses to Post on Mismanagement in the Department of Politics

  1. Anon says:

    Hello Dissenter

    Have you heard about nursery debacle? Rumours flying round that nursery staff are only getting statutory redundancy. What a slap in the face especially when you consider how much Julius got paid for his presidency year while doing nothing isr the uni.

  2. Muckraker says:

    Notice there is still a deafening silence from the FBSS’s Human Rights ‘experts’ – the KU politics dept – about the Sultan of Brunei and his latest wizard wheeze to have gay people and adulterers stoned: no blogs, no statements, no comments, not even to this Dissenter blog. Seems politics staff are more interested in defending South American despots like Maduro. Hey! Wait a minute – at least someone’s on the case: the University of Aberdeen has decided to revoke the Sultan’s Honorary Degree in protest at his new policy. It would be unfair to blame the father’s sins on his KU politics/IR graduate daughter, but you’d think she would have a quiet word with her sad old dad about his crap approach to human rights? Clearly, KU’s politics team did not teach her well.

  3. gbennett says:

    Pshaw, I say. I say Dissenter is a petulant child seldom attending campus, otherwise said child might have noticed that staff are being charged per semester in the PR car park, and some spaces are cordoned off.

    Is that breach of contract?

    Get thee into a Union, reader.

    I think what you are doing is great – to a point. You’re not going to like this or print this, but I just want you to know how damaging it is for you to print clearly fabricated nonsense – and I know you have done so. Get a grip. Generalise.

    • Dissenter says:

      Car parking charges came relatively late to Kingston; staff have had to pay to park for some years at other universities. Not a welcome development for staff whose pay is in decline, but it’s hardly something this blog can complain about: reduction in car use is generally considered a good thing. But feel free to write a piece on the matter for the Blog and we will publish, assuming it’s mature enough.

      As for fabricated material, we look forward to reading your refutation.

  4. Robin Pettitt says:

    I am not sure why I bother. Engaging with anonymous trolls on the internet rarely leads to anything good, but here goes anyway.
    PhD students are allocated primarily on staff specialism. Sometimes a prospective PhD student will contact a specific member of staff. Sometimes a proposal will be submitted via a general email address and then circulated to staff to express interests.
    In addition, the supervisor team has to have one member of staff who has already brought a PhD to completion. Hence, Atsuko sometimes acts as a secondary supervisor. The suggestion that either Radu or Atsuko are nefariously hogging PhD students is simply nonsense. I have worked in the department for more than 10 years, and none amongst my colleagues is like that.
    In addition, Atsuko is not Deputy HoD. She is temporarily filling the role as HoD whilst Radu is no research leave.
    Now, being as I am a ****** and a jobsworth I would say that. On which note, I have no idea what the people behind the anonymous comments are hoping to achieve, but the fact that you do not have the courage to put your names to the attacks really says all anyone needs to know about you.
    I am sure the trolls have more abuse and bile in store, but neither this blog nor those who comment here are worth any more of my time. Happy trolling – enjoy.

    • Dissenter says:

      Thanks for your response. Your points are reasonable although I do not think it is fair to describe other commenters as trolls. They are putting forward their points of view, which in cases like this are sure to be disagreed with by others. This blog can only note that the distribution of students is unusually weighted in favour of two staff members. Regardless of reasons, this has caused concern for some. And as we have noted, this situation has occurred in other departments to an extent such that the dean intervened in one case. I hope you will accept that the topic should be aired.

    • Robin Pettitt says:

      So labelling me ***** is fine and is published without comment. However, labelling the person who called me that a troll is not. Hypocrisy, thy name is Dissenter.

    • Dissenter says:

      You are right that it is inappropriate to use abusive language and I have edited out the offending comments. That vulgarity aside, the thrust of the comments are not, I believe, trolling – that is, merely to abuse. This blog is not intended for KU staff to bicker but to point out injustices in the way the University is run. I see nothing hypocritical about that, even if you disagree with the original post. And you have had the opportunity to reply.

      I would add that the unusually high number of student allocations to one member of staff in particular has not been adequately explained.

    • Jack Dawson says:

      As regards people having the courage to put their real names to their comments: it really doesn’t take much courage to do that if, like Robin, all your comments consist of praise for your managers. If he’s so brave, why doesn’t he post some comments critical of management under his own name ?

      It is good at least that he has confirmed that the figures are accurate. But his justifications ring hollow. Atsuko is far from the only member of the Politics department who has PhD completions; indeed, every other staff member at Associate Professor or Professorial level has PhD completions. So the idea that she is everyone’s PhD supervisor just because she has PhD completions is ridiculous.

      As for Robin’s suggestion that the Postgraduate Research Coordinator just happens to have the precise specialisation that coincides with what all the PhD students want to study, and that the Head of Department just happens to have the second-most-popular specialisation – that would be a truly remarkable coincidence if it were true. But I expect if we were to look at the list of PhD topics that Atsuko’s and Radu’s students are studying, we would find that most or all of them could just as easily have been supervised by other staff members.

      I at least would like to see and end to all the cronyism and sycophancy at Kingston, and for the university to be run on the basis of meritocracy. It would be putting it too strongly to say that’s what I hope to achieve by posting here, but at least that’s what I’d like to see happen.

    • Robin 'Jobsworth' Pettitt says:

      So, other than the trolling the post wasn’t trolling. Genius bit of reasoning there Dissenter, absolutely genius. And let’s also face facts here: the original post, and even the sanitised version was an extended attack on the Politics Department as a whole – starting with PhD numbers but moving on from there. Not an attack on senior management, but on the Politics Department, and everyone who is doing their utmost there to deliver for our students. Please tell me, Dissenter, what exactly you gain from publishing an attack on the Department as whole? Please tell me that. If you are an employee of the university, why would you allow a direct attack on colleagues like that? What exactly have we done, as the people who spend our lives trying to do right by our students, to deserve such an attack? I repeat my statement from the beginning of this whole sorry tale: this post shames the blog, it shames the original author, and it shames you.

      As to Jack Dawson, I am not management, and have no desire to be (especially at HoD level it is hard, and as your post as so clearly illustrated, ungrateful work), and yet you were happy to level personal abuse at me without having the guts to identify yourself. Well done. I am sure KU management feel shaken by that.

    • Dissenter says:

      The accusation of trolling is often used when someone objects to content – this blog has been accused of that before. Dissenter’s Blog is intended to highlight injustices, whether from senior management or those below. That one person has such a large number of students would seem a legitimate concern, and one that has not really been answered. No one associated with the blog stands to gain anything. As far as the blog is concerned, the main point is the student allocation. Critical arguments in the comments are published provided they are not abusive; others are either edited or not published.

    • Arkon Martin says:

      Dear All,

      If policy is indeed to include only experienced staff as second supervisors, that is somewhat of a closed shop, destined to die out. Fortunately that is not the policy in most schools. Perhaps the defenders of this particular school might confirm or deny this practice?

  5. Jack Dawson says:

    The full, uncut article about Politics has been republished on the Kingston University Scandal blog. Here’s the link. Are you going to permit it to be given here or will you suppress this too ?

    https://kingstonuniversityscandal.wordpress.com/2019/04/06/corruption-in-the-department-of-politics-at-kingston-university/

    The published document suggests the claim regarding PhD students is accurate. Maybe Radu or Atsuko would like to respond ?

  6. Muckraker says:

    I hate to intrude on this little ‘war’ that’s broken out, but I gather Pettitt is one of those who survived Morgan-Wortham’s ‘cull’ of politics staff – so I am not surprised he’s so keen to defend the current managerial set-up. I also seem to recall (am I right?) that the cuts to that dept were carried out using some kind of points-based system, made up by the Moronic Wortham? I wonder if interested staff could see how the points were allocated, which staff were awarded with which points, and for what reasons? I reckon that would be really interesting.

  7. Robin says:

    The ‘further details ‘ are my more than 10 years of having worked with these valued colleagues you so nastily attack. I call on you to remove this this vile post. If you work at KU you are attacking hard working colleagues. If you no longer work at KU I would suggest you need a less unhealthy hobby. I have nothing further to say to someone who is willing to write this kind of unpleasantness. The longer this post stands the longer it shames you.

    • Dissenter says:

      This blog has received details of the claim of unequal distribution of research students which supports the post as written. If you have alternative figures we would be pleased to take a look. Moreover, similar behaviour has occurred in other depts of the University.

  8. Andy Higginbottom says:

    Dear Kingston Dissenter

    We have just seen your new post ‘Mismanagement in the Department of Politics’.

    We refute your portrayal of our Head of Department Radu Cinpoes and Acting Head Atsuko Ichijo, who are both exceptionally hard-working and respected colleagues, whose efforts have considerably helped the department move forward in difficult conditions.

    You have named Radu and Atsuko in full without any attempt to diffuse their identity.

    This is not dissent but character assassination.

    We insist that you take down this malicious and vindictive post, which does not represent in any way the views of Politics academic staff.

    Andy Higginbottom

    Amanda Latimer

    Peter Finn

    Simon Choat

    Nevena Nancheva

    Ronald Ranta

    Robin Pettitt

    Hannah Miller

    Antonio Cerella

    Stephen Bowen

    Ilaria Favretto

    • Muckraker says:

      Can I give a view from elsewhere in FBSS? There’s at least three staff names missing from that list, which is curious. But looking at it all from a legal viewpoint, the quality of information about Phd statistics and allocations, which has now been removed, could surely have only come from within the dept? Somebody on that list is playing a double game. Wonder who?

  9. Jack Dawson says:

    I’ve always thought Robin Pettitt was a bit of a jobsworth. A man who actually took to Twitter to defend the universally reviled Simon Moron Worthless, and to claim he was ‘earnest’ and ‘competent’. His comment here is entirely in keeping with his character.

    But to give him his due, here is what he has just tweeted:

    ‘As a member of staff in the Politics Department I can say that this post is utterly and complete nonsense. Shameful and unworthy of the previous work of the Dissenter. If you have any decency you would take it down and apologise.’

    https://twitter.com/RobinPettitt/status/1111359022421237763

    I’m impressed that Robin admits to thinking that the work of the Dissenter is worthy. It takes some courage for a Kingston staff-member to say that publicly, so hats off to him.

    As for whether the statements in the post are true: people can visit the Guardian league table online and check them for themselves.

    Maybe Atsuko or Radu could confirm whether the figures for PhD student distribution are true or not ?

    • Muckraker says:

      Sultans of Spin.

      The super-rich Sultunate of Brunei is much in the news at the moment. The oil-funded Kingdom’s head is the Sultan of Brunei, His Majesty Hassanai Bolkiah, whose record on human rights is one of the worst in the world. He has decided to implement draconian anti-human rights legislation, straight out the Dark Ages. It ncludes the punishment of adulterers, abortion, and members of the LGBT community by death by stoning. There’s been an international outcry over this destruction of rights, but not a word from Kingston or its Politics staff (who, remember, teach human rights and international studies). In fact, there’s been a deafening silence. Why? Is it because the Sultan of Brunei’s daughter studied at Kingston in the Politics dept? She gained a BA in International Studies and then an MSc in International Relations. She was taught by some of the members of the current Politics dept. The Sultan himself came to her graduation ceremony in 2009, and Kingston’s very own Sultans of Spin in marketing soon saw a publicity opportunity for photos and general praise, with a press release etc. His Majesty was even introduced to a member of the Politics staff, and was photographed with a (now former) FASS Dean and a (now former) V.C. Both sides praised each other to the rafters. Another former FASS Dean, sleazy McQuillan, also tried to tap the Sultan for some dough, but even he backed off in the end. Staff in Politics said nothing about the Sultan’s record at the time, and have zero to say today. Clearly the Sultan’s daughter has been unable or unwilling to have a quiet word with her nice old dad about the little matter of human rights, and learnt little from her two degrees. Another great result for KU.

  10. Robin Pettitt says:

    This is complete and utter rubbish. Both Radu and Atsuko are extremely collegial and hardworking. There is simply not an ounce of truth in any of this. Shame on you!
    Dr. Robin Pettitt
    Senior Lecturer
    Department of Politics
    Kingston University

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