Bang goes the reputation part two

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Phil Parry is a former BBC news and current affairs reporter. He is winner of the BT Wales award for journalist of the year, BT Wales TV reporter of the year and radio reporter of the year.
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The Eye have a ‘Mission Statement’ – but are Welsh universities true to theirs?

Last week The Eye exposed how the declared values of universities in Wales did not always live up to past events at the same institutions in the correct manner.

Today we look at controversies in other Welsh universities and how they square with what they profess to believe in. 

 

It has not simply been Bangor, Aberystwyth, Cardiff Metropolitan, and Cardiff universities which have not apparently lived up to their proclaimed values in the right way.

Phil Parry roots out ‘offensive’ behaviour

It seems there is also a major problem for Swansea University, after officials proclaimed on their website:  “The Dignity at Work and Study policy promotes the dignity of all students and staff at the University by eliminating all forms of offensive behaviour”.

At the same time that this ‘Mission Statement’ was declared, an extraordinary and deeply offensive anonymous computer campaign was underway internally at the controversial university where officials have been suspended, a top-level investigation has been launched into a dubious multi-million pound land deal, and the police have been called in.

The anonymous internal campaign has supported a controversial senior official at the university who we showed, announced she is leaving, and in a note to staff admitted that it had been a “challenging” time.

Hilary Lappin-Scott leaves university where ‘offensive’ campaign is being undertaken

The shock news that the headline-grabbing Pro Vice-Chancellor (PVC) Hilary Lappin-Scott is to quit the scandal-hit university came as yet another scurrilous anonymous gmail, in which our Editor was mentioned but has been ignored by the mainstream media, was sent to staff and high-ranking politicians in the continuing astonishing, libellous dirty tricks campaign against the fraud inquiry in which serious “issues” have been referred to the police.

The ‘offensive’ campaigner said Hilary’s ‘global recognition’ had been ‘negated’

The anonymous campaigner has said in the past that Professor Lappin-Scott would lead them to “an era of gold and honey”, yet she had enraged her own staff by sending Tweets from glamorous parts of the world on university ‘business’.

A recent internal computer gmail to workers at Swansea and senior Welsh politcians said: Will there be a new rebuttal by Swansea University’s expanding PR team, now made up of xxxx, Sion Barry ([the Western Mail Business Editor] and our own Editor) Phil Parry, or have they referred this matter to MI5 and (convicted fraudster) Steve Chan?”.

The anonymous internal campagner says Sir Roger Jones should look into it

One of the messages in the remarkable campaign, came from the invented gmail address Vanitas Vanitatum and told staff:  “After six months, hundreds of thousands of pounds and the thrashing (trashing?) of your Institution’s reputation, your Magic Circle firm has pulled a dead rabbit out of the hat”.

It claimed the investigation had involved huge costs and included “malice and incompetence”.

Friend - anonymous campaigner
An ‘offensive’ campaign is underway at Swansea University

Only yesterday another gmail was sent in the relentless ‘offensive’ campaign which directly criticised the Registrar Andrew Rhodes (see story next week).

Part of the highly-defamatory note also from the Vanitas Vanitatum address to staff, journalists and senior Welsh politicians, read:  “As your Institution’s suspensions farce continues through its eight(h) month, you may wish to reflect on the person responsible for it and the standard of professional conduct (he) deem(s) appropriate”.

The mainstream media in Wales have ignored the ‘offensive’ computer campaign

Another gmail was sent, like the others, to the university’s Chair of council Sir Roger Jones and staff as well as the politicians, coming from a further created address which has also been used in the past, called ‘Lilith Sumerian’.

Others have also been employed including ‘The iniquities Of the selfish’ and ‘Ivs Titia’.

As with events at other universities in Wales, all of these gmails have been ignored by the mainstream media even though some of the messages have been sent directly to reporters.

Other invented addresses like ‘Ivs Titia’ have been used in the anonymous campaign

A further extraordinary gmail from the ‘Vanitas Vanitatum’ address about a recent award ceremony was also incredibly offensive as well as being libellous and misspelt, stating: “… your Registrar (Andrew Rhodes) was shamelessly picking up Prof Richard Davies’s (the suspended Vice-Chancellor {VC}) award – clearly he made (Pro Vice-Chancellor [PVC]) Hillary (Lappin-Scott) stay at home” and added:  “I am sure you will all join me in congratulating him (suspended Dean of the university’s School of Management, Marc Clement).

Ia there really a witch-hunt underway?

In one of the anonymous messages, it has been claimed:  Why is this witch hunt … still continuing?” and that there was “A trial by media, a kangaroo court, a selection of evidence and suspensions before interviews”.

It is clear that senior officials want to ‘eliminate’ this kind of ‘offensive behaviour’ as stated on their website.

Steve Chan – why did Swansea University employ a convicted fraudster?

The Eye have been alone in reporting the first official statement from Swansea’s ‘Associate Director Vice-Chancellor’s Office, Head of Legal and Compliance Services’ responding to the ‘offensive’ computer campaign, which stated that: “The matters under investigation are very serious. The University has invested a significant amount of resource investigating the alleged misconduct, as have the authorities. It is essential that nothing is done to undermine the on-going processes. They must be allowed to run their course without interference.”

Swansea University also says on its website: “We have achieved an extraordinary level of success in recent years”.

Yet some might query this ‘success’ when the institution employed a convicted fraudster called Steve Chan who used to work on a contract at the management school, and after we had revealed that a previous Dean there accused of bullying had died.

We disclosed how Chan had been imprisoned for four years and three months, and ordered to pay millions of dollars in compensation.

Chan was imprisoned by Boston law courts for more than four years and ordered to pay millions of dollars in restitution

His jail term imposed at Boston law courts was followed by three years of supervised release, after he admitted one count of conspiracy to commit fraud and one count of mail fraud, he was also ordered to pay restitution of $12,596,298.

We revealed that Chan had even represented the university in advising an international agency on the ways to combat fraud.

Yet none of this has been covered by the mainstream media in Wales.

For some it’s easy to get into USW

But university officials have been less keen than the anonymous campaigner to give The Eye information – this time about Chan’s background, and we have been told in the past our questions about him in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request had been refused on the grounds they were “vexatious”.

Similarly the University of South Wales (USW) would seem to have a problem squaring correctly what it says to potential students with what it does.

They are ‘bold’ at USW

The institution claims on its website:  “At the University of South Wales, it’s all about being bold, independent and fulfilling your potential”, and it has certainly been bold in what it offered those young people.

Against official UK advice the USW has insisted that pupils predicted to secure certain A-levels were to receive automatic unconditional offers.

An internal email we have seen stated:  Any students with predicted grades of BBC or above will automatically receive an unconditional offerThose below will be offered conditional places if found to be suitable”.

Clare Marchant was ‘concerned’

The instruction to admissions tutors at USW came soon after criticism of the procedure of making ‘unconditional’ offers.

In March last year Clare Marchant, the head of the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), said the higher education sector needed to have an “open and honest” debate about these offers after figures showed a 40 per cent rise in them the year before, and that this was a “concern”.

Are the mainstream media asleep?

This too has gone unreported by the mainstream media in Wales.

In 2017, more than 50,000 students in the UK were offered unconditional places, raising fears among critics that universities were using them to secure student fees of thousands of pounds, to the detriment of some pupils, and last Summer it was reported that the number of students receiving unconditional offers for university places had leapt on the previous year.

Vice-Chancellor (VC) Colin Riordan talks about the ‘vision’ of his university where official complaints are near the top of the league table

As The Eye showed last week Cardiff University (CU) also faces a difficult task matching its words to past actions.

It says on the website:  “We are an ambitious and innovative university with a bold and strategic vision” and in January 2015 the VC Colin Riordan (who was paid more than £250,000 the year before) showed an interesting ‘strategy’ after he racked up £1,010.98 on taxis, hotels, rail tickets and hospitality between June 2013 and May 2014.

Disturbing details were exposed…

Officials are also apparently ‘innovative’ in relation to caring for the health of their staff.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request has shown that dozens of staff members are seeking help with their mental health.

Last year tutor Malcolm Anderson took his own life and was found dead outside the office where he worked at CU after “silently struggling” with his workload.

With official complaints too there appears to be an intriguing ‘strategy’ after we disclosed, alone among the Welsh media, that the university has scored the second highest number in Britain.

Cambridge was the only one ahead of Cardiff

Our journalists noted that CU has notched up 39 grievances jointly with Oxford University behind only Cambridge University, although better methods of recording data may be partly to blame.

Even so the news is likely to be acutely embarrassing for CU officials given their declared values.

Universities actions and the values they claim to believe in, should coincide with past events – in a good way.

Book posterAnd they should be reported…

 

Phil Parry’s memories of his extraordinary 35-year award-winning career in journalism as he was gripped by the incurable disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major new book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order the book now!

 

 

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