Nice work if you can get it part one

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More staff

A controversial Welsh university is advertising for more staff on a 12 month contract at a costly campus on a holiday island that officials said they would axeThe Eye can reveal.

Aberystwyth University says it wants a “Research Assistant (One Year)” at the Mauritius campus.

The advertisement states the assistant would be on an “Employee Law Expert System” at the campus, and gave an interview date of late last month, with the full time post open to Mauritian nationals only.

In another document the Academic Campus Director for Aberystwyth University (Mauritius Branch Campus) is given as Dr Susan Busby.

‘A waste of money’

Yet in December the governing body of Aberystwyth decided it would “not enrol further intakes of students” at Mauritius from March 2018.

The extraordinary revelation will bemuse many who had criticised the opening of the campus.

The shock news of its closure came after relentless pressure from us.

It opened in Autumn 2015, but only 40 students enrolled in its first two terms.

Opening campus on holiday island ‘not a wise move’

The latest accounts for the campus show £658,000 was made from tuition fees during 2015-16 and 2016-17, against a deficit of £1,017,000.

But it was the cost of opening it, not simply the running costs, which proved highly controversial.

The Eye showed how furious staff at the university had slammed the Mauritius campus as a “complete waste of money”.

Simon Thomas – highly critical

The Plaid Cymru Assembly Member (AM) Simon Thomas, himself a former Aberystwyth student, also waded into the growing row.

He said opening it was “not a wise move”, and a former Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth condemned the decision to create it in the first place.

Derec Llwyd Morgan -‘madness’

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, and that the whole venture was “madness”.

But the university is no stranger to bad headlines.

Almost four years ago The Eye showed how the contentious institution had plunged in The Guardian and dropped from 70th to 87th in the Complete University Guide. 

April McMahon – ‘take the tables with a pinch of salt’

A petition was started demanding the immediate resignation of the then Vice-Chancellor, Professor April McMahon, under whose troubled tenure the Mauritius campus had been announced.

On the petition one student from Birmingham wrote: “I came to Aberystwyth in 2011 expecting to leave with a degree from a well-renowned university.

“I am now leaving this year with the university having fallen 33 places in the Guardian University League Table in the space of only two years!!”

Aberystwyth University want more staff in Mauritius

Professor McMahon said at the time that the tables had to be taken “with a pinch of salt”.

She finally stepped down after we predicted she may be forced out.

Further people could be forced to ‘step down’ after, to paraphrase Aberystwyth’s former Vice-Chancellor,  the ‘madness’ of officials advertising for staff on a 12-month contract at a campus they said they would close.

Next week, Nice Work If You Can Get It part two, and we reveal the anger inside leading Welsh universities at the high-level of pay and perks of senior managers. 

Tomorrow an alternative look at the busy times of a Welsh celebrity in a glossy Cardiff magazine. 

 

 

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