Your Pay vs Their Pay: the reality

This image has been a big hit on social media, so Dissenter felt duty-bound to share it. While KU staff made huge sacrifices during the pandemic and kept the place going, the Silver failures on the SLT (Senile Leadership Team) were rewarded handsomely by their so-called Gold Commander. And, remember, one of the VC’s close mates on the SLT was given a secret extra financial bung recently for taking on a new Deanship. You couldn’t make it up. Trebles all round.

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Why the long face? KU’s VC is not happy

Vice-Admiral Steven ‘Two Jobs’ Spier is not a happy man. But then, was he ever a happy man? According to reliable sources, Spiersy has been getting the hump over the actions of the local UCU branch at Kingston, and regards the ‘action short of a strike’ policy adopted by UCU as ‘damaging to’ (his words) the University’s public reputation.

Yes, ironic, isn’t it? The man who has done more than any other previous VC to undermine and wreck the University’s reputation through his savage cuts to courses (which led to big front-page headlines in the local press), his piss-poor management, his extravagant spending on useless outside consultants, his embarrassingly bland video blogs, his inept performance in front of a Minister of State, his special favours for close mates on the SLT, and a host of other questionable decisions, has had the gall to turn round and blame the workforce for KU’s poor public relations.

We should not be too surprised. This is a man who gloated to the newly-appointed head of the local Council (his new best friend) that the numbers of staff picketing at PR and KP campuses recently had been ‘small’ in number. This is the man who is so arrogant that he refuses to meet Union reps face to face, and always sends his favourite bagman, Dave ‘Mac the Knife’ Mackintosh, to confront UCU reps and negotiate, which in KU speak really means ‘relay the latest decisions from on high’.

Remember, too, that the so-called Gold Commander is the man who also gave ‘Mac the Knife’ a special financial bonus for taking on a shiny new Deanship, but without telling the rest of the SLT about this secret bung. This is the man who trousers more than £329,000 a year for being VC, but also has another secret job on the side (which he does on the University’s own time). This is the man who has used University money to enjoy a series of ‘business’ trips abroad, defending this as necessary for ‘income generation’ (oh yeah?). This is the man who also seems intent on reinventing the University as a hybrid ‘Polyversity’, a kind of glorified and dumbed down technical college, where more and more of the teaching will be delivered online, with less and less staff. He is also now floating the idea, as part of his future ‘vision’ (his FOM – ‘Future Operational Model’), of radically cutting down on staff office space – the ultimate logic of this being to have, at some stage in the future, no staff offices with p.c.s but, instead, a highly mobile ‘taskforce’ of cheap lecturers all working from laptops. Yes – that’s the plan. You heard it here first. Don’t say you were not warned.

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Stevie ‘Bobby’ Spiersy sings

Splish splash I was takin’ a bath
When I shoulda been runnin’ the show, yeah
A rub a dub, feet wet in the flood
Hoping everything was all right

Well I opened the door, the water poured out
Eadweard wasn’t happy
And started to shout, and then
A-splish splash, another pipe burst
How was I to know my management was crap

We was a-splishin’ and a-splashin’, failin’ with the bailin’
Lovin’ the logrollin’, staff were disapprovin’, yeah

Bing-bang, the SLT gang
Payin’ them over the top, yeah
Flip flop, should be in for the chop
Get away with it all of the time

There was little Big Mack soaking wet through
Good Golly, the Polly in swimming trunks too
A-well-a, splish splash, I forgot about the job
And gave myself a salary rise, yeah

Yes, I was a-splishin’ and a-splashin’
I was a-stallin’ and appallin’
Yeah, I was a-failin’ and a-wailin’, whoo
We was a-clownin’ at the townin’, ha
We was a-shockin’ and a-cockin’, foolin’ and a-toolin’
A-splish and a-splash, yeah


With acknowledgements

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Floody Hell: KU has that sinking feeling again

What is cold, wet and very unwelcome? Your first answer will no doubt be the VC and self-annointed Gold Commander Steven ‘two jobs’ Spier. But it might also be the news that there has been another flood in the EM Building at Pen Rd, much to the disgust and anger of staff. It happened late on the evening of 9th January, and staff returning to their offices and labs on the morning of 10th January found a soggy mess waiting for them and their access to rooms and offices, in a number of cases, completely barred.

So successful have KU managers been in keeping quiet and covering up the incident that many staff across the University have remained blissfully unaware of it, and do not even know it happened. But for those staff and students who were affected by it at Pen Rd, it has had very serious consequences. Not only were various staff offices flooded and books and other equipment ruined, but sports science facilities and forensics work were also seriously damaged. Some of the lab work had to be junked (and some of the forensics work, by the way, was being carried out for outside contracts held by Kingston). So this latest embarrassment has cost the Uni a considerable sum of money.

What has been so shocking for staff in the EM Building is that this is the second serious flooding in 3 years. The previous incident (linked to the JG Building right next to the EM block) occurred over a Christmas break and was not discovered for a long while because there was nobody in the building at the time and, for some reason, security staff seemed to be asleep on the job. Predictably, lots of big promises were made at that time by KU’s Senior Lack-of-Leadership Team (‘it won’t happen again’, ‘it’s a one-off’, and so on). Yet here we are again. And, remember, this has also had serious consequences for the work of students, especially final year ones, who have just entered their vital second semester.

So, the next time you hear Vice-Admiral Spier boasting yet gain about all the millions that was lavishly spent on the Clown House, and what a great achievement it has all been, winning awards and meeting his ‘vision’ etc, etc (yawn), just remember how that building has sucked up mountains of money while other parts of the Pen Rd campus were crying out for repairs, crucial maintenance and renewal. The latest flooding in the EM Building illustrates this perfectly, and is a tragedy that could so easily have been avoided. As ever, though, KU’s senior managers have been caught out again, utterly failing to anticipate maintenance issues that could have been dealt with had they been doing their jobs properly. The current Estates team are clearly inadequate, but ultimately the buck stops at the top.

And if you want to ask Spiersy any questions about this or other matters and put him on the spot, you are out of luck. His latest meeting with staff, to be held in his personal cathedral to extravagance, the Clown House (where else?), will see him take questions from staff – but only ones that have been submitted and vetted beforehand. The Gold Commander is so frightened of being thrown a difficult question that he is ensuring, yet again, complete control over the meeting. A free and frank discussion? No chance. What do you think Kingston is – a University?

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Reflecting on 2021: A message from your Gold Commander

Dear Peasants Colleagues,

As we come to the end of the year I wanted to write directly to you and note your hard work and determination throughout 2021, despite all the terrible doubts you have had about my leadership and strategy. Even our new KU mascot, Pollyversity the Parrot, seems pleased.

I admit I had very much hoped that many more of you would give your wise VC and my wonderful Senior Team more praise in the recent staff survey, and I am disappointed about the levels of misery I have created across the institution again this year. I must say some of you wrote some very rude things about my leadership, but fortunately this will not be available to the wider public or parents of potential applicants. So there.

Unfortunately, we are once again entering a period of some uncertainty and must be prepared to adapt as necessary. This means I will, once again, be blaming the pandemic for all the poor management you have experienced (yet again) in 2021. In the meantime, you can all contribute to the mission and journey that I have set you.

I have made available via the main website a short set of slides, a snapshot consisting of just 500 images which describe many of my successes and achievements. Despite the continuing pressures of the pandemic, it has been a very rewarding year for me in many ways, and I am grateful for all the money the institution has paid me. You can be very proud of all that we have achieved together.

We kept our research and teaching going despite the challenges and chaos created by my latest round of course and subject closures, and we have supported many of our class of 2021 to graduate in the knowledge that they have managed to gain a Degree in subjects that we will never teach again. I am especially grateful for the concern and support shown to our students as they have had to adapt to a new wave of job losses and the disappearance of many of our best lecturers. My message is simple: adapt, or wallow in misery. The choice is yours.

This has also been another year in which Kingston has continued to improve its academic performance but undermine its reputation. We went up in most league tables, including in the teaching of Politics. However, we decided that Politics was still surplus to requirements, full of nonsense about ‘human rights’, power, policy, accountability and other such irrelevant things, and therefore not in touch with the market or the real world of ‘making things’.

Doing in action

Indeed, I have placed ‘doing things’, ‘making things’ and ‘creative skills’ at the very heart of KU’s mission, with my Future Skills campaign traumatizing dazzling all who are exposed to its make-do message. My campaign has highlighed the supreme importance of ‘creative education’, not just the creative and cultural industries but all sectors of our declining post-Brexit economy, especially those bits that can supply the skills for innovation that my wise vision says we need. Staff will notice that I have put my own creative skills into action throughout 2021: I have created, for example, loads of misery, uncertainty, poor staff  morale, cynicism and a great deal of negative feedback in the staff survey.

In the next exciting stages of my campaign, I intend to build on this creativity and roll out these achievements across the whole institution. As we move away from the outdated ‘University’ model and create a new kind of glorified technical college, I will continue to work with our partners (all three of them) to champion an education system that will leave all in awe at the sheer supremeness of my strategic leadership and make-do philosophy. Even Pollyversity the Parrot has acknowledged my leadership skills and squawks in excitement every time I chair a meeting of the Senior Lack-Leadership-Team. I take that as the ultimate vote of confidence in my VC-ship.

Looking Ahead

Our Polyversity University and English higher education face no shortage of challenges, not least further unnecessary strike action by that miserable bunch of wasters in the so-called lecturer’s Union, but there are also lots of opportunities for us (well, O.K., for me, anyway) to pursue continuous innovation and make-do initiatives. At my initiative, we are starting to discuss our future, and I have spent the whole of the autumn semester visiting each and every one of you to listen to your views and answer all your questions, even though you may not have been in at the time or were perhaps between classes. Although I cannot remember the names of many of those I visited and became a bit lost in some of the campus buildings, I can assure you that there will be further opportunities in the next ten years or so for all colleagues to contribute to this process.

There are also, of course, specific and local plans – not least some further savings and economies that can be made by junking some more of those irrelevant ‘traditional’ subjects. In order to make, we need to do. In order to do, we need to make. Lack of making will not do. More do-do can make do. Common sense, really. An innovative and make-do approach will therefore inform all my decisions.

My next staff address on Wednesday 26 January will provide further opportunity for discussion and to raise issues, and I promise I will not quickly disappear this time before you can pose your questions. Please submit your questions in advance to my PA and I will select the best ones for the benefit of my make-do wisdom.

So, thank you, staff-types, for everything you do and have done for me this year. It has been another demanding year with no sight of a meaningful pay rise for the majority of you, but my second job has managed to see me through the year once again and you will no doubt be relieved to hear that I will be at your service once again after the festive closure period. Chin, chin.

With best wishes,


Professor, Vice-Chancellor, Gold Commander, the UK’s leading architect, and the world’s foremost expert on Swiss Cheeses.

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The Kingston Carol

To be sung to a Medieval management tune

Bullshit, bullshite, thou little tiny mind
Bye bye, bullshit, bullshite
This Christmas tide you may well find
Bye bye bullshit, bullshite.

Spiersy the king, in his ageing
Waffled he hath this day
His team of shite in his own sight
Lacketh good words to say.

Bullshit, bullshite, thou little tiny mind
Bye bye, bullshit, bullshite
Long the time he had resigned
Bye bye bullshit, bullshite.

That woe is we, poor staff to see
These jesters our workplace blight
Their Christmas gift, a sackful of shit
Bye bye bullshit, bullshite.

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