Welsh university academics (A1 and A2) discuss with Edwin Phillips why two controversial institutions in Wales did not take part in the latest teaching excellence ranking.
A1: (Smirking) it had to be Aberystwyth and South Wales universities, didn’t it?!
A2: (Also smirking) ha, yes, after all that stuff The Eye dug up on them!
A1: (Laughing now) absolutely!
(Back to smirking) I suppose it couldn’t take part in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) after going down in all those tables!
After all, at one point Aberystwyth dropped massively in The Guardian and went from 70 to 87 in the Complete University Guide.
A2: (Clapping his friend on the shoulder) don’t forget the petition!
A1: Oh, yes – that all-important petition!
(Laughing again) they wanted April out, didn’t they?
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!!”.
April even said those tables needed to be taken “with a pinch of salt”!
A2: The University of South Wales (USW) is almost as bad, and it didn’t take part in TEF either!
A1: (Back to smirking) ah, yes, we shouldn’t forget about that.
The officials there don’t seem to like giving out information do they?
A2: Yes, you’re right.
In November 2015 those journalists at The Eye showed how the Information Commissioner had ruled that they had breached the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by withholding crucial information.
The commissioner found that the reason to withhold some information on the closure of the USW Caerleon campus “did not outweigh the public interest” and “the university breached sections 10(1) and 17(1) in failing to disclose information relevant to the request and failing to issue a refusal notice within the required timescales”.
A1: (Looking at sky) there was something about all those honorary doctorates celebrities get too wasn’t there?
A2: Indeed there was.
USW awarded an Honorary Doctorate to that ‘celebrity’ fashion designer, from ‘The Clothes Show’, Jeff Banks.
In all, more than 1,400 honorary degrees have been conferred by the 50 lowest-ranking British universities since 2011 — with scores of celebrities benefiting.
A1: There was a fuss about the Vice-Chancellor at USW too I hear.
A2: (Grimly) exactly.
The Vice-Chancellor (Julie Lydon) was confronted with calls that she step down.
USW is the biggest university in Wales, too!
A1: (Slaps forehead) perhaps we should give lectures on that.
‘Why universities which go down the tables and do not give out information but honour fashion gurus, will not take part in teaching excellence frameworks.’