The latest revelations by The Eye of a crisis at a scandal-hit Welsh university have prompted an extraordinary outpouring of details to us from angry academics in the institution, offering an astonishing insight into the unfolding drama which has gone unreported in the mainstream media, it has emerged.
One of our sources at Cardiff Metropolitan University (CMU) said Human Resource officials were called in to investigate a complaint about “not eating a sandwich within the designated lumchtime”.
Another shed a disturbing light on the way money is raised at Cardiff Met and said:“In July 2017 AFTER the graduation ceremony PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) students were invoiced for modules they had failed and emails said the invoice was for re-examination fee.
while a further academic said CMU was full of “bullies” and the atmosphere was “toxic”.
A different unhappy academic has told us the university is in “turmoil” and in a state of “carnage”.
We have already submitted a lengthy request for details under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) asking officials to confirm information from our contacts that controversial Vice-Chancellor (VC) Cara Aitchison and her deputy have been placed on ‘sick leave’ after huge changes and a drive for more students which have come under fire from academics at CMU.
We have asked officials who now is in charge at CMU along with accusations from the academics, that it is a “rudderless ship”.
Further information has been requested about the future of two top executives at CMU, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Sushila Chang, and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International) Mohamed Loutfi.
Our sources at the university have alleged that both are now also on ‘sick leave’ after opposing the changes and that Professor Loutfi is due to leave CMU altogether on September 1.
The outpouring of complaints given to The Eye come as academics say they work in an atmosphere of fear unless they support a huge expansion of the university.
Papers show that the university has set a target of gaining a level of 26,425 students by 2023, an increase of 8,810 on today’s figure of 17,615.
But CMU has long attracted bad headlines following controversies revealed exclusively by The Eye about staffing levels and the numbers sick and amid allegations that a staff health survey was postponed.
One of our sources told us: “Staffing levels are completely inadequate.
“Sickness levels and grievances are through the roof across the university”.
Another of our sources within the Welsh university sector said:“They are rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic”.
It is clear from the number of complainants who have contacted The Eye that many staff members at CMU are deeply unhappy, yet remain too fearful of repercussions to be identified.
One of our sources says that anyone mentioning us is immediately the focus of attention.
The academic told us: “It has become obvious amongst all of us that anyone in CMU mentioning (The) Eye is immediately under suspicion for being one of your sources.
“They are afraid of the truth about the shambles … at CMU getting out into the mainstream media.
“Even UCU (University and College Union) colleagues are afraid to speak out which is indicative of the atmosphere here.”
The person said there was enormous concern among staff at CMU about the effect of a huge increase in students, and adds: “(There is a) dreadful mess around us.
“No one knows who to trust when they want to share their concerns, in case we damage our futures. So much for academic freedom!
“We have virtually no admin support to speak about and yet we’re expected to offer our students a great student experience”.
Yet CMU is upbeat, and officials have stated in an advert for a new chair of governors: “We are an award winning institution both internationally and in the UK and have a learning community totalling 17,000 students (10,000 based in Cardiff and 7,000 studying with collaborative partners), with an enviable reputation for employability and teaching excellence”.
In October a spokesperson said: “The University has recruited considerably more students in 2017 than last year, and we have confidence growth in existing courses can be achieved.
“New courses have come on stream in 2017 achieving high levels of recruitment”.
But it seems high levels of recruitment do not please everyone – judging by the number of angry comments we have had from unhappy academics at CMU.
Tomorrow – a bank holiday tender document to replace a BBC Current Affairs programme which we showed had been axed after just a year.