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We are ‘vexatious’ to them…

A controversial Welsh university where staff have told The Eye they are too frightened to speak out publicly about the devastating effects of enormous changes has refused to release information to us which includes the number of gagging clauses issued to academics who have left.

Officials at Cardiff Metropolitan University (CMU) say the request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), detailed below, from our Editor, Phil Parry, is “vexatious”.

CMU ‘nose dived’

The shock news comes amid renewed alarm The Eye have revealed among academics inside CMU that the university has “nose dived” in the most recent rankings.

CMU is now ranked 108 in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019 – which means it has plunged 18 places in only a year.

One of our sources at the university told us: “There is yet more anxiety here at CMU with the latest university rankings out that could not have come at a worse time.

Students at CMU are told they are on a ‘great course’

“We are doing our best to welcome new students telling them what a great course they have joined, which is true, but the latest news does not show our institution in a good light.

“CMU has nose dived.”

Another said: “CMU is down 18 places to 108 and there is no word internally yet as the leadership can’t possibly admit that they’ve made things worse since they arrived. 

The Eye’s contacts demand to know why the mainstream media is not covering the crisis

“God knows what pathetic excuse they’ll come up with but we know that they won’t take responsibility.

“I expect it’ll be the fault of the poor bloody lecturers again and in the meantime we have to take on more work with no support while they let the place burn.



The ‘sandwich saga’ has become notorious at CMU

We have also been given details of alleged “bullying” in a toxic” atmosphere, and a different staff member got into trouble for “not eating a sandwich within the designated lunch hour” when officials from Human Resources were called in.

The event became notorious within CMU as the ‘sandwich saga’.

This academic also highlighted the concern internally that the growing controversy is not being covered by the mainstream media.

BBC Wales doesn’t want bridges burnt?

The Eye were told: (As for) media non-exposure, I guess BBC Wales will worry about links they have with CMet and don’t want bridges burnt”.

Key questions were put to CMU by Mr Parry, but he was told: “We are issuing a refusal notice as the request has been considered repeated and/or vexatious“.

None of the requests have been repeated.

In full they were as follows: “Further to my earlier inquiries could you please answer the following questions under FOIA legislation?

  1. There is no information for us…

    The number of staff at Cardiff Metropolitan University at Senior Management level (this includes the Management Board and Academic Board as well as the Vice-Chancellor’s {VC} Executive Group and Faculty/School Deans) who have been given voluntary severance/redundancy since the appointment of Cara Aitchison as VC?

  2. The accumulative amount of money paid to date in these settlements, as well as the amount spent for severance agreements for staff who left between May 2017 and August 2018, and what proportion of this was through the Voluntary Severance Programme?
  3. We are ‘vexatious’ apparently

    The number of staff at all levels who have been required to sign non-disclosure to the press agreements, and the reasons for these being inserted?

  4. The number of new Senior Management appointments with whom the VC had previously worked at other institutions and whether the VC was part of the appointments panel for these staff at CMU?
  5. How much was spent in total on refurbishing the VC’s office and the whole of ‘Maritime House’?
  6. How much was spent on upgrading facilities for CMU students?

    How much over the same time period was spent on upgrading student-facing spaces, including teaching, library, student support and social spaces?

  7. How much was spent on the ‘Professional Services Review’ (PSR)?
  8. What were the main recommendations of the PSR and have they been implemented?
  9. How many grievances are against Cara Aitchison/

    What is the number of grievances placed against the VC since her appointment?

  10. If the number of meetings formal or informal held by the VC, former or current Chairs of Governors/Chancellors to persuade staff to leave is 0 then can this fact be omitted from the non-disclosure agreements?
  11. Could you confirm/deny whether Professor Loutfi, who is to leave on September 1, has taken out an official grievance case against Cara Aitchison?
  12. Could you confirm/deny whether lawyers are involved in this case?

All of the answers to these questions were refused by officials at CMU.

They want more and more students in Cardiff

Internal information appears to confirm what we have been told, and documents show that CMU has set an ambitious target of reaching a level of 26,425 students by 2023, an increase of 8,810 on today’s figure of 17,615, while staff claim they are under-resourced for an enlargement on this scale and students are being admitted who simply cannot cope with degree work.

The embattled VC and her key officials have begun a major structural change to accommodate the new students, but academics remain deeply concerned.

Even as the scandal at CMU has not emerged into mainstream media, The Eye have been inundated with desperate comments from upset academics, and the latest says they are “demoralised and demotivated”.

Overworked staff say they are ‘demoralised’

Another of our sources at CMU told us earlier: “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.”

It seems unlikely the truth about CMU will now get out, after the institution refused to release information, and the mainstream media concentrated on another aspect of the rankings – that Swansea University had now overtaken Cardiff University…



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