We’re on the Rhodes to nowhere

Kingston School of Art, the now-bloated love child of vice chancellor Steven ‘it wasn’t me’ Spier and Dean Colin ‘Rhodes to nowhere’, is in trouble. Last week at his welcome event Dean Colin told the assembled School that it was ‘not quite in the black’, and to ensure everyone needed to think about ways to be really sustainable. Sounds practical? Why then did he, reportedly in his best quivering voice, ask all present to care about each other, and not just think of themselves? Why did he warble koala-style encouraging staff to teach into each other’s programmes, to share their expertise? So fewer staff can teach more, of course. Why was his hired hand – the HR hit-woman in the front row – smiling and nodding at his every word, meeting his nervous glances with a reassuring smile reserved for him unless his back is turned? Someone needs to tell her she is HR, not PR.

Rhodes to nowhere is most certainly the long arm, the ever so hapless puppet, of invisible Spier. If he didn’t mess up over in Australia, Rhodes surely will at KSA where the staff are tougher than he. Rhodes’ HR heavy will lose patience with his emotional approach if he doesn’t cut staff soon.

After Dean Colin’s heartfelt address, he introduced his newly-recruited sycophants. The team heard a well-pitched and cloying manifesto of nothing in particular from ‘who-on-earth-is-he’ Andrew Teverson, whose earnest kiss blowing to Rhodes from behind a pseudo-intellectual beard came as a cold draught to everyone else. Next, almost sitting on each other’s laps, were two lightweights of research. Jane ‘pumped-up’ Pavitt grimaced through her crimson lipstick at Rhodes, who she is dumping to take a non-advertised, non-competitive job up at the top with Anne ‘big beads’ Boddington. Apparently grumbling to even stand was Simon More than Worthless. Those present last week think his reluctance to get vertical comes from a fear of being recognised by either those he has already mismanaged, or those who will expect him to do something. Don’t worry Simon, you are bland enough to be quickly forgotten. Alongside these chunky cronies, staff were honoured by the brief introduction of Sarah ‘stick’ Bennett, who occupies her time at Knights Park planning her own next art show. Bennett’s neighbour Angela ‘too dull for description’ Partington showed the crowd how much teaching and learning really is beyond banal. Thankfully Dean Colin stopped the roll call there, leaving the remaining protégés of his pointless initiatives to beam glowingly from behind their oversize designer glasses.

So where are we? Kingston is sinking. Don’t let any of those clunkers from KSA into YOUR lifeboat, however enterprising they promise to be.

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Wanted. Replacement for Essex boy

Located in a lot of crumby dirty buildings, Kingston University is a decaying sweatshop institution. Ranked amongst the top 2000 youngest (not very good) universities in the world by the Times Higher Education, it brings a truly (honestly) global outlook to higher education, failing a hapless student community from over 140 countries across 4 main campuses. Under the hopeless leadership of its new (pretty old now) Vice-Chancellor, ‘Professor’ Steven Spier, the university has been manipulated up one or two leapt UK League Table Ranking and is now falling over itself to bullshit about transformational vision and other assorted mealy-mouthed crap to kid anyone gullible enough  that it could be amongst the very best modern universities worldwide.

In delivering the above, the university is now seeking to recruit an exceptional arse of as Director of HR & OD to replace the old lunatic. To achieve transformational change, it recognises that a one university culture is key, so the applicant must be able to count at least up to two. The new postholder will therefore take strategic accountability for scoping a new approach to leadership, management and engagement — that is, bullshit endlessly while screwing the staff into the ground. Operating as a key lackey to the University Executive Team s/he will write the sort of drivel that has gone into this pathetic job ad.

With significant HR & OD bullying experience gained in a large, complex, people-fucking-up organisation, the successful candidate will possess a proven track record of pursuing creative strategies that deliver higher salaries to management while impoverishing academic and support staff. A non-thinker, with a well-developed sense of best practice for undermining the institution, s/he will have a genuine commitment to the mission of the University – ‘to get the staff to work harder and harder for less and less while fearing all the whiule foir their jobs and livelihoods. The Vice-Chancellor says ‘blibble bobble bibble.’

This is a stimulating time to join a university that is passionate about the power of management and its ability to destroy the lives of its staff, and bugger the students. This is a superb prospect for an exceptional careerist to replace the previous disasters in the job, and to join the senior management team of a truly (honestly) ambitious institution that is committed to feathering the bosses’ ample nests.

We particularly encourage applications from Essex boys and girls who are under-represented at Kingston. For further information, including details of how to apply, please visit www.todgers.com/68439

Closing date: Until we find someone deranged enough.

Kingston University is committed to equality and we value the diversity of our staff and students provided they take an annual pay cut.


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PLs reach the end of the line

At the end of this year all remaining grade 10 staff with job titles of Principal Lecturer or Reader will take a big pay cut. According to the Senate minutes late last year, there are only 7 left (5 others had “planned exits” at the end of the last “transition” — a management euphemism for forced retirement or redundancy). Of all the unspeakable behaviour of Management towards its staff, the several years’ pressure to meet the new shifting standard is surely the worst example of abuse perpetrated on the staff. It’s no wonder that the same minutes note the proportion of grade 10 staff is falling as they’ve headed for the exits. Back in the early days of this pogrom, one of Dissenter’s contacts at another university remarked on how many job applicants they were getting from Kingston people.

With typical arrogance, the SMT claims that the 70% transition rate to AP is a “remarkable achievement”. What is remarkable is that the University can still function in the face of such monstrous management practice. Good management would never have put staff through such a stressful and sapping waste of goodwill and effort. An automatic transferral to the new job title would have been proper and sensible. The architect, Julius ‘the Rat’ Weinberg has long gone, leaving behind a tottering university, but what of Essex boy, the HR Director who had his dirty fingers all over the grade 10 debacle? Does the recent job ad for the post mean he’s off, or is this just a sham to put him there permanently. Given the standard of the management recruits at Kingston, one might fear the latter.

Any PL or Readers left please do let the Blog know the situation.

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Kingston NSS scores dribble upwards

Over the summer the 2018 National Student Survey results were released, and as usual Kingston management’s bullshit machine swung into action. We all know the NSS bears little relation to teaching quality, but the SMT will extract what it can from the dried tea bag of performance monitoring. So it boasts about an improvement in teaching, feedback and support, although the figures are only a couple of percent or so, a minor improvement at best. Even SS’s effusions can’t make much of the miniscule improvement in student satisfaction from 80.1% to 80.5%. Will any of these vaunted small improvements take the pressure off staff? Almost certainly not. The public face of the SMT is very different to the one turned towards us. Janus is its name.

As usual our bumbling bosses trumpet the 100% satisfaction rates from the handful of courses that get them, while quietly overlooking those who’ve fallen from this perfect score, Nutrition for example, whose students are apparently more fed up (geddit) this year. But let’s celebrate the put-upon mathematicians who, against the odds, have managed 100% for their courses this year. Even here the SMT has resorted to bullshit, claiming the reason is the new way the courses are taught, at its insistence. The NSS figure, however, was obtained before this has been introduced. Regardless, it’s a good result for beleaguered Maths, a last hurrah for the department being absorbed into Computing (not 100% satisfaction). Shame about the third of staff who contributed to that achievement and have been ushered out by the management. Oops.

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KU clerihew 7

Matt Hiely-Rayner
(Well, it’s a no-brainer)
Has another job spinning statistical fables
To push Kingston up the league tables

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In the summertime

Management has cut my pay
Left me on a lower grade
Teaching on this sunny afternoon
And I can’t do research
Stone has left me in the lurch
Teaching on a sunny afternoon

Save me, save me, from the SMT
I’ve got a big Clarissa trying to sack me
And the job drags on unpleasantly
Kingston is in penury
Dying on this sunny afternoon
In the summertime
In the summertime

My students’ feedback forms are in
Although attendance rates are thin
Telling tales of tedium and truancy
Now I’m all at sea
Sipping at my Picton tea
Teaching on a sunny afternoon

Help me, help me, help me change career
There are no good reasons why I’m staying here
I would love to live so pleasantly
But Kingston is just drudgery
Wretched on a sunny afternoon
In the summertime
In the summertime

[With acknowledgements again to the Kinks and Danny Boy ]

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