More university challenge

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Worried academics at a Welsh university are too scared to talk openly to the media about the chaos they say engulfs their institution despite a union code stressing freedom from censorship, The Eye can disclose.

One academic who did not wish to be identified, told us:  Please can you highlight the shambles that is going on inside CMU (Cardiff Metropolitan University) and the uncertainty that we are faced with?”.

Cyncoed campus move questioned

The staff member added:  “We have no more students studying in Cardiff than we had last year.

“We are being pressed to recruit more students to shore up a deficit in this years applications and there have been a worrying number of dropouts on some courses.

We have not had any detail about the move of the school of health from Llandaff Campus to Cyncoed Campus, the huge costs of moving labs etc or where those facilities will be situated or what is happening to the school of education.

‘What about the students and staff?’

“We have no detail about the plans or courses for the new school of technology, just a dreamland vision devoid of substance.

“It will be somewhere in the City Centre, but where, and when that will happen…. 

What about our students and what about the pressure on our colleagues?

“Morale is on the floor whilst students expectations are rightly very high”.

The university is ‘confident’

But the university is defiant.

In October a spokesperson at CMU 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.

Swansea university – CMU is not alone in controversy

“There is a fully developed business plan for the School of Technologies, with a clear vision, rationale and business case.

“The plan has been discussed with all the relevant external stakeholders and 32 companies have endorsed the plan and agreed to be partners in delivering the vision for increasing education provision in new technologies in the capital.

“Given the business sensitivity and specialist nature of the proposal it would not be normal practice to circulate the detail to all staff at this stage.”

Steve Chan – The Eye exposed him

But the entire university sector in Wales is in turmoil with disturbing revelations made by The Eye.

We were alone in highlighting the appointment of Steve Chan to Swansea University’s School of Management, after he had been jailed for more than four years by a court in Boston for a massive fraud, yet went on to advise a company where the man in charge also had an interesting history.

Chan used details that he still worked in Swansea long after he had left.

We were also the first to report the death of the former controversial head of the school, Nigel Piercy, who was sacked after he described Trade Unionists as “grubby little people”.

We were alone in reporting death of Nigel Piercy

Against convention, the death of this former senior member of staff was not marked by the university.

These facts were touched on by our source at CMU who said:  “It (CMU) makes the Swansea school of management look well organised in comparison”.

The Mauritius campus ‘madness’

Yet other universities in Wales have also hit the headlines for the wrong reasons.

Aberystwyth University made news when it finally announced it was closing the costly campus on the holiday island of Mauritius.

The Eye showed how furious staff at the university had slammed the campus as a “complete waste of money”, and how its closure came after relentless pressure by us.

‘The folly’ of opening a campus on a holiday island

It was built to accommodate 2,000 students, but just 106 enrolled in its second year.

We revealed how the cost too of the move had proved contentious.

One member of the university told us then:  “Now we know the expensive folly of the Mauritius campus.

“But I bet they don’t apologise.”

Simon Thomas – highly critical

The ramifications of the closure of the campus were wide and reached a political level.

The Plaid Cymru Assembly Member (AM) Simon Thomas, himself a former Aberystwyth student, said opening it was “not a wise move”.

A former Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth condemned the decision to create it in the first place.

Prof Derec Llwyd Morgan, who ran the university from 1994 to 2004, said the figures showed it was a bad decision to go to a far-flung country.

Derec Llwyd Morgan ‘madness’

“The venture is madness”, he said.

CMU has also long been dogged by controversy.

A year ago the university was accused of censoring free speech for banning phrases such as “right-hand man” and “gentleman’s agreement” in favour of more inclusive, gender neutral language.

“Forefathers”, “mankind” and “sportsmanship” were also on the list of 34 words and phrases to be avoided as part of efforts to “embrace cultural diversity” by the university.

Joanna Williams – ‘an insult’

But some academics were deeply offended by this move.

Dr Joanna Williams, an academic freedom advocate and University of Kent lecturer, said the ban was “unnecessary”.

She added:  “The idea that in a university people need to be dictated to in this way is really insulting to students and academics, we should be able to cope with words”.

Controversial Cyncoed campus plan withdrawn

CMU’s building policy has also come under fire.

In the month before the university ban was reported, the university withdrew controversial plans to build a huge extension to its campus in a residential suburb of Cardiff after a wave of protests.

Officials had originally submitted details of a seven-storey accommodation block on its Cyncoed campus which would have housed more than 500 students.

Whole university sector under fire

There would also have been a forum building, comprising student support services, a social space and a coffee shop, as well as first-floor conference facilities.

Yet neighbours had complained the proposals would have a detrimental impact on those living nearby.

There could also be a detrimental impact following our exclusive revelation of huge concern among academics within CMU.

Next week more disturbing revelations about the pay of university Vice-Chancellors. 

Check your knowledge of today’s events as revealed over the last few months on The Eye, with our brilliant interactive quiz: [viralQuiz id=1]


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