Splash! Another Silver Leader jumps overboard

If more evidence was needed of the ongoing turmoil at the top of KU and the great disillusionment that has set in with the VCship of Gold Commander Steven ‘Two Jobs’ Spier, the following could be offered in Court, M ‘Lud. A brief news item quietly slipped out by the Uni Comms mob on 21 June revealed that SLT Silver veteran and Deputy VC Prof Martyn Jones has joined the growing number of managers who have had enough of Spier and his Clown House Strategy obsessions. Jones has handed in his resignation and is stepping down this autumn. Also going is the Uni Clerk Andrew Boggs. The lifeboat is getting crowded.

Jonesy the Silver surfer first joined KU after spells at the University of Kent and University of Wales. He was appointed Pro-VC for External Affairs at KU in 2007 and was promoted to Deputy VC in 2014. Prior to his time in academia he was in the British Army, something that impressed Vice-Clown Spier enormously (during lockdown, it was Jones who apparently gave Spier the idea of having senior managers assume military ranks to manage the emergency, such as ‘Gold Commander’, ‘Silver’ and ‘Bronze’ status, and so on, the kind of thing military-types seem to love). Spier and Jones also shared a common distaste for trade unions, and often moaned about how ‘ungrateful’ staff are.

However, as numerous KU managers have found, including various members of the SLT, Vice-Admiral Speer, who sees himself as one of the world’s greatest architects and as an expert on Swiss cheeses, likes to bang on about skills but has very few himself of any worth, especially managerial ones. He prefers to dump (sorry, ‘delegate’) much of the hard work of running KU on others. Poor old Prof Jonesy ended up doing loads of work. Just look at all his responsibilities while he was leading KU’s Directorate for Corporate Services: he had to manage Governance, Legal services, Brand and Communications, Public Affairs, Health and Safety, Risk and Business Continuity, as well as Development, Alumni Relations and Engagement. According to those in the know, the poor old Silver-haired Prof simply became worn down by the sheer burden of all this, and increasingly pissed off and resentful at the all the work Commandant Speer kept pushing his way. Who can blame him?

But Spiersy has clearly been thrown off course by the impending departure of another of his Silver workhorses. After all, he relies on the SLT lapdogs to give him new ideas and to massage his ego about the Clown House Strategy and ‘Future Skills’, which has badly lost its momentum in recent months. To add insult to injury, the news release included a notably petulant comment by Spier about the loss of his Deputy. All he could offer was that Prof Jones had made ‘a significant contribution to the University across a number of years’ and he wished him well. Oh yeah?

The news release added that, with his impending departure, and also that of University Clerk Andrew Boggs, the Uni will be ‘repurposing’ (one of Spier’s favourite words) the Deputy VC role to that of ‘University Secretary’. According to our sources, the ‘Secretary’ (who is yet to be appointed) will also be heavily involved in the ‘People Plan’, another incredibly exciting but meaningless plan dreamt up by Spier and a member of the SLT, as the Vice-Clown is getting desperate to get the Clown House Strategy back on track. We have had Plan 2020. Plan 2030. Now the People Plan. We can’t wait. Plans ahoy!

Posted in General | 1 Comment

Spiersy spins some gloss

Why the long face? KU’s VC and ‘Gold Commander’ Steven ‘Two Jobs’ Spier has been looking particularly glum in recent SLT and Board meetings, despite the happy chappy image he likes to put on in all the Comms photos he loves to issue. Why so? Simple. His ambitious plans to convert the Uni into a Polyversity, or ‘Multiversity’ as he likes to call it, are not going the way he hoped. Quite the opposite. Far from rising in Uni league tables, KU is dropping. A lot.

Spiersy has spun much spin in recent times about how, under his inspired and glorious leadership, KU is ‘going places’ and is racing ahead of all its rivals to become an institution that is pioneering a ‘new progressive model of education’ through a ‘future skills’ campaign. He dreams of eventually grabbing himself an honour from the government as a nice reward for all this and for his retirement. But the masterplan is looking more shaky than ever before, and he knows it. In their hearts, so does his lapdog SLT, who appear enthusiastic about the Town House Strategy in public and to his face, but increasingly lampoon it behind the Vice-Clown’s back (and they have their salaries to protect, of course). To add to his woes, the Board of Governors (BOG) are increasingly cynical about the Clown House Tragedy, sorry, ‘Town House Strategy’, as well. Some of the BOGsters have always held doubts about Spiersy, and those concerns have been reinforced by recent events.

Look at recruitment. Spiersy and his close mates persuaded themselves that investing in big buildings rather than in staff would somehow magically draw in loads of student applications, all stunned and in awe at the sheer size of the Clown House and excited about big plans for a new giant Middle Mill building project. But Undergraduate and Postgraduate recruitment is looking poor. Recent panicky Board meetings have been given some dire figures which show a number of Faculties failing to meet their Home UG targets, with FBSS – to give one example – 13% behind target. And FBSS was one of the Faculties that was culled and slimmed down on Spiersy’s orders! Now the chickens are coming home to roost. Why would students want to apply to a Faculty that has had so much damage done to its reputation? KSA is not faring any better. It is 12% away from Home UG target. Two other Faculties are also struggling. The figures for International UG recruitment are also looking grim. Both FBSS and KSA are reportedly 9% behind target.

At Postgraduate level, PGT Home applicants are very weak for all Faculties across the Uni, and PGT International applicants are also looking very poor (FBSS is 20% behind its target and HSSCE 7% behind). The Uni’s Finance Committee have now started pressing the SLT for updated figures on projected numbers, as they sense things are looking very dark, and the finance team are hinting that a new plan should be drawn up to now include ‘some re-profiling of targets’. That is polite talk for ‘bloody hell – things are looking really shit’. Spiersy’s promises of great numbers for September are plain nonsense and everybody in the know sees this, even if he refuses to face up to the fact. Let’s be clear: this is all happening on his watch and because of his own crappy managerial strategy.

And consider the latest league tables. To add further misery to the overpaid Vice-Clown’s woes, KU was ranked joint 87th out of 130 institutions in this year’s Complete University Guide league table. Yep: 87th! The fact is Spiersy’s ‘flagship’ Uni has moved down a stunning 9 places in the overall rankings from last year. Yes, that’s right – let that sink in: KU has crashed by 9 places and gone into embarrassing reverse. Predictably, and hilariously, the KU Comms team issued a big piece of typical Spier spin on this, which tried to put a positive light on the results – ‘there were a number of strong subject-level performances’, blah, blah, blah. But nothing can hide the obvious truth that, under Spiersy’s supreme but tragically unenlightened VCship, KU is falling into serious decline. The Comms spin put out on the Uni website included a comment from the man himself, where he said that while moving down the table nine places was (clears throat) ‘disappointing’, there were still ‘positives to be taken in a number of areas’. You could hear the laughs across the whole Uni, if not the whole HE sector. Who does he think he’s kidding?

Regurgitating some of his favourite managerial-speak from his dusty Kingston Hill ‘How to manage’ textbooks, ‘Two Jobs’ also said it was ‘clearly a disappointment to lose some momentum from our upward trajectory in recent years’, but ‘improvements’ in a number of subjects and overall metrics ‘are encouraging’, and he was confident KU could still deliver on its TH Strategy. Confident? Does he really believe all this desperate rubbish? Sadly, we suspect he probably does.

Posted in General | 3 Comments

More Spin from Admiral Spier

Roll up! Roll up! Vice-Admiral Steven ‘Two Jobs’ Spier is getting ever more desperate to make his ‘flagship’ Clown House Strategy work, and wants to re-sell the Tragedy, sorry ‘Strategy’ to his long-suffering and underpaid KU staff yet again. The Polyversity Comms team has invited KU staff to a Town House Strategy ‘all-staff event’, to be held in the rather hollow ‘courtyard’ of the the Town House on 27 April. Yep. You read that correctly. Staff have been invited, once again, to hear about ‘Town House Strategy updates and developments’ from our very part-time Gold Commander and, this time, he will be joined by Mystic Meg, sorry, ‘Futurologist’ John Vary, one of the world’s foremost experts on horoscopes. Spiersy will no doubt be hoping that Mystic John will use some creative Future Skills to include a confident prediction that the VC will inevitably be rewarded by his close mates in the government with a Knighthood. The Vice-Commandant feels that he deserves this honour for all his work creating what he (laughingly) calls his ‘progressive new model of education’, otherwise known as the ‘basic skills model’ by most other Universities (and which many of them dropped ages ago).

As the academic year draws to an end things have not been going well for poor old Spiersy and his plan to become ‘Sir’ Steven. Since the launch of the Future Skills campaign a full two years ago, a shed-load of money has been thrown at the Clown House strategy and it has been re-launched over and over. But there has been little interest from KU staff, and there’s hardly been an avalanche of interest from industry. The Town House Fellows scheme, sold to staff as ‘a very special opportunity’ to contribute to the ‘delivery’ of the TH Strategy, has been disastrous, with hardly any interest or applications. This is hardly surprising, as it involves a lot of casual donkey work for very little in return. Spiersy and the SLT (Senile Leadership Team) have been so stuck for ideas they hoped that exploiting some eager members of staff as ‘Fellows’ would bring some fresh creative thinking to make up for their own empty-headed approach, hilariously deemed ‘workstreams’ by Spiersy’s ultra-loyal SLTer Simon Worthless-Moron, KSA’s notorious Professor of Sleeping (around) Studies, who has written much of the Town House Strategy bullshit.

But it’s all gone horribly stale for them, and panic is setting in. Spiersy has also become aware that other VCs across the country are beginning to watch this failure pan out in real-time. In a sign of how desperate the world’s leading architect and expert on contemporary Swiss cheeses has become, Admiral Spiersy recently ordered his loyal bagman David ‘Mac the Knife’ Mackintosh, the oldest Dean in the University, if not the Universe, to step down as Dean of the Faculty of Health, Science, Social Care and Education, and concentrate instead on TH Strategy ‘implementation’ – i.e. giving the Town House Strategy momentum again before the ‘flagship’ hits the rocks and sinks. Mackintosh could hardly say no, as he was given a large (secret) bonus by Spiersy for overseeing the disastrous split with St. Georges and for making huge cuts to courses across the University.

For sheer entertainment value alone, the ‘all-staff’ meeting should give any staff who can be bothered to attend (and face the mind-numbing tedium) a good opportunity to get some ‘updates’ on how spectacularly wonderful everything is going. Just be careful of the tumbleweed as it flows through the courtyard. And for God’s sake don’t ask any questions! The VC does not like to be embarrassed. It’s bad for his nerves.

Posted in General | 1 Comment

Admiral Spier drops crackpot Uni name change plan


There was a sigh of relief among the KU Senile Leadership Team (SLT) and the Board of Governors (BOG) a few weeks ago when their useless boss backed off from what many of them privately regarded as an incredibly stupid plan. Staff across the University will no doubt also be hugely thankful, if pissed off that the plan was even given the time of day in the first place.

Dissenter can now exclusively reveal that Kingston Uni Vice-Chancellor and part-time Admiral Steven ‘two jobs’ Spier has dropped his secret pet proposal to re-name Kingston University as part of his so-called Town House strategy. For a while he appeared to be determined to make the change and force it through, given how desperate he is to make the ‘Clown House’ Future Skills plan work. He had originally planned to announce it as part of his June 2022 update on how brilliantly the whole Town House strategy (launched in June 2021) is going (we kid you not), and how ‘Phase 2’ of its ‘entrepreneurial innovation’ will save Kingston, shower the Uni with accolades and awards, impress the government, and eventually secure our piss-poor VC a Knighthood (or so he dreams).

According to our disgruntled source at the heart of things (many thanks ‘X’), part-time Spiersy, who trousered a gobsmacking £352,000 smackers in 2021 alone (national average VC pay is £269,000), has a second job, and who likes to splash out Uni money as if it was from a bottomless pit, was prepared to spend a ginormous amount of money renaming the University, which would have led to rebranding and redesigning all Uni paperwork, mastheads, websites, and all public-facing signs across all campuses. Bloody hell! The looney Clown had commissioned outside consultants to suggest proposed names and to set out ‘the way forward’ and the ‘scope of works’ for the Town House strategy. All sorts of names and new titles had been thrown about at SLT and other ‘strategy’ meetings, many of them variations on ‘Kingston Town House University’ (KTHU) or ‘Town House University’ (THU). For a long while Spier was adamant that ‘Town House’ had to appear somewhere in the new title, much to the frustration of some of the BOG, who could see no sense in the nutty idea.

However, in the end, and much to the sad old Clown’s disappointment, even the hugely overpaid consultants saw some sense and had to advise Spiersy that there was no appetite for developing a new Kingston University brand and a new name in line with strategic ambitions, and it would also have to entail a massive financial investment. Instead, the consultants recommended to the Gold Commander and his Senile Leadership Team that the Uni would be better off just focusing on creating a ‘brand toolkit’ and on things such as lobbying for a ‘new model of higher education’ (pioneered by Kingston) and the creation of a ‘Future Skills Council’. Spiersy’s proposed name-change is now dead in the water (for now, anyway), and that long-desired and rather pathetic fantasy he holds of getting a Knighthood for services to embedding ‘future skills’ in higher education has slipped further from the Gold Commander’s greedy grasp. His face has been much longer than usual over the last few weeks, despite his best smiley face in the regular publicity photos released by the Uni Comms team. Now we know why.

The world’s greatest architect and expert on Swiss cheeses must now think of other things to waste the Uni’s finances on, such as yet more buildings. Staff, as always, will come second. But we should thank our lucky stars we will not be working for ‘Town House University’ or ‘Kingston Town Uni’ or some such empty-headed or embarrassing name.


Posted in General | 7 Comments

Suspicions of subsidence in new Town House

Posted in General | 2 Comments

Lessons from Lynch

The RMT, trade union for train company staff, including drivers, has been in the news lately. Its leader Mick Lynch has gained a reputation for competence and skilful handling of the media, much like his predecessor but one, the late Bob Crow, as well as leading effective strike action. This is why the average train worker salary is £44,000, and just under £60,000 for drivers. Compare this with the average academic salary of about £40,000.

To be a lecturer requires a minimum six years in university education. A train driver needs GCSEs. Driving a train is of course a highly responsible job, but I imagine most lecturers feel they are underpaid in comparison. The trade union for university academic staff, the UCU, has not been very successful in negotiating real pay rises for university staff. Our pay has declined over the decades. The latest pay offer is 3%; inflation, in case you haven’t noticed, is running at 10.1% (CPI). This comes after frozen pay from 2010 for two years, and 1% rises between 2013 and 2017. Last year was zero.

There have been several periods of industrial action organised by the UCU over the years, yet university pay has slipped further in real terms. Why has the RMT been so effective with strike action compared to our union? The principal reason, other than Lynch, is because strikes are well supported by RMT members. Of course, loss of train services has far more impact on the country than academics withholding marks or cancelling lectures, but the truth is lecturers are very bad at looking out for themselves. UCU membership is under 50% and support for industrial action lower still. Picket lines outside university entrances are often a handful of people, especially at Kingston. I’ve heard several excuses for not supporting strikes. The most frequent is worrying about the students, though action is usually so brief there is really no long term damage to their education. Most lecturers say nothing and keep their heads down.

This is a poor show from the staff. In the face of aggressive university management, which has adopted the harsh right wing policies that afflict the country, pay and conditions are now in such decline that academics are more likely to leave than suffer the indignity of declining pay and being undervalued. It would make more sense to stand up for ourselves collectively and stay with the job we like. But I can already see the heads going down. Watch Mick Lynch on TV and weep.

Posted in General | 2 Comments