Our satirical writer Edwin Phillips, reads a media release from the body representing universities, after a Welsh one was named “University of the Year 2021”, despite its staff saying that they are “too frightened to talk” publicly about what they claim is chaos, and it has strengthened a code of practice on freedom of speech.
TIME: NOW BEFORE THE WORLD REALISES
Doomsayers should be ignored, and the magnificent achievement must instead be celebrated of Cardiff Metropolitan University (CMU) picking up the award from Times Higher Education (THE) for becoming “University of the Year 2021”.
This, as with other awards, has been bestowed upon CMU despite the fact that a number of controversies have been highlighted by the website The Eye, which were clearly designed to undermine management there.
Other recent prizes for CMU have been featured in an advert for a new Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC), which was described by The Eye as incorrect, because it was for Cardiff University (CU), and that institution’s logo as well as photograph were published.
In the advert CMU announced that it “was recently awarded the title of Welsh University of the Year 2021 by The Times and The Sunday Times”.
There is unambiguous delight in all quarters of academia, except the minority which has unhappily seized on internal documents showing that, as well as publishing this notice for a new senior staff member, CMU has also acknowledged it will do more now, to allow ungenerous internal critics to speak out. Minutes of a “SPECIAL MEETING OF THE BOARD OF GOVERNORS”, from March 11 2021 state that the university seeks to “explicitly strengthen the University’s commitment to freedom of speech and academic freedom”. This then became official policy at CMU, with the declaration: “The Board Resolved. 1) To approve the proposed Code of Practice on Freedom of Speech”.
We urge members of the media (apart from The Eye), though, to ignore such considerations, along with the comments of academics who, it is clear, have grievances.
This is evident from the remark of one who told The Eye: “If they are the best, what on earth are the worst like?!”.
CMU is justifiably proud of the THE award, and has announced it on the opening page of its website, although other notifications have not been emphasised, such as it being ranked 108 in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019 – which critics pointed out meant that it had gone down 18 places in only a year.
Negative academics within CMU obviously have axes to grind, and should be ignored.
These include the person who said to The Eye: “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.”
Like him, others are at risk of disciplinary procedures being launched.
The Eye were supposedly given ‘details’ of “bullying”, about a staff member infringing policy, when a sandwich was eaten outside “the designated lunch hour” following which officials from Human Resources were called in.
This apparently came as an internal document to staff at CMU, and unfortunately passed to The Eye, was described as “the latest attempt by our Vice Chancellor to persuade us all that everything is going well and according to plan, but it certainly doesn’t feel that way”.
A number of CMU’s staff had regrettably analysed the statistics given in this excellent document, but did not seem to be impressed, with one saying: “In the VC news update there are some obvious discrepancies in some of the cherry-picked figures that any academic can spot”. There were plainly small differences in anticipated turnover in the paper for 2018/19, to the statistic given in the Strategic Plan for CMU, and this person continued: “So which figure is correct? The previously published strategic plan or the latest Pravda update?”.
Another of The Eye’s so-called ‘sources’ unfairly criticised the knowledge of some staff now at CMU, saying: “A five year old has more technological intellect than some C Met staff… a lot of staff think storing to cloud has something to do with the weather!”.
Yet others, in complete contrast, were praised: “There are some good staff being ‘trodden’ all over. I see it happening all the time. (As for) media non-exposure, I guess BBC Wales will worry about ‘links’ they have with CMet and don’t want bridges burnt”.
Even as the mainstream media have rightly failed to report such minor events at CMU, The Eye have been alone in publishing these absurd comments from academics, with one saying they are “demoralised and demotivated”.
Another alleged ‘contact’ at this university of the year, told The Eye: “Staffing levels are completely inadequate. Sickness levels and grievances are through the roof across the university.” While a further one within the Welsh university sector said:“They are rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic”. A different academic supposedly ‘spoke out’ to the effect that the university is in “turmoil” and in a state of “carnage”.
A staff survey of Health and Wellbeing was correctly carried out after The Eye revealed it had been postponed, and one ungrateful individual stated: “(The) Eye must have hit a nerve as the VC tells us that ‘one priority is to address any concerns raised by staff in the Staff Health and Wellbeing Survey conducted last month’”.
The university understandably responded to a request for details under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) completely denying information that the superb VC and her deputy had been placed on ‘sick leave’ as important changes unfolded and the drive for more students regrettably came under fire from academics at CMU. Another vexatious FOIA request was submitted by The Eye, ridiculously asking officials who was in charge at the university amid nonsensical accusations from academics, that it was a “rudderless ship”.
CMU documents which should have remained confidential, but instead have sadly also been passed to The Eye, showed that CMU had set an eminently reachable target of 26,425 students by 2023, while lazy staff members claimed they were under-resourced for an enlargement on this scale, and students were admitted who simply could not cope with degree work.
Such targets (which defeatist academics call ‘ridiculous’) should be celebrated, as with CMU becoming “University of the Year 2021”-even as it has published an advertisement for a senior staff member which was described as ‘incorrect’, and workers there have told The Eye of what is happening inside.
END OF ACADEMIC FREEDOM
The memories of our Editor Phil Parry’s astonishing decades-long award-winning career in journalism (including reporting ‘awards’ for controversial institutions) as he was gripped by the rare disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order it now!
Publication of another book, however, was refused, because it was to have included names.