University of life part two

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Sources tell us all is not well at Cardiff Metropolitan University

Further evidence of the extraordinary turmoil inside a leading Welsh university has been revealed to The Eye with yet another internal source coming forward to give us details they are “too frightened to talk” publicly about, the alleged chaos, and leading officials who have oversight of it “turning a blind eye even though a grievance has gone straight to them”, we can disclose.

Another senior member of staff has now left Cardiff Metropolitan University (CMU) causing deep dismay among staff as “she is the only member of the senior team who is on the side of the academics”.

Staff have been brought in where Vice=Chancellor Cara Aitchison used to work

We have received numerous complaints that those who are left are of low calibre and subservient to the controversial Vice-Chancellor (VC) Cara Aitchison.

The source within CMU told us those that have been “brought in … worked with VC previously”.

The contact added:  “I can’t wait for the REF (Research Excellence Framework) results … Research across the university is at an all time low”.

Research at an all-time low?

We understand that a deputy Vice-Chancellor at the university has submitted a formal complaint about the running of the institution by Professor Aitchison.

A former staff member has said a spoof Twitter site has been created, which is being widely followed by staff at CMU. e story that keeps

We have shown previously how another source at CMU told us the atmosphere is “feverish”, while more than two and a half times the amount of money has been spent on legal fees compared with the year before.

The astonishing events at the university have become a source of amusement for our satirical writer Edwin Phillips.

Academics can’t wait…

A number of staff who have left have been required to sign ‘gagging’ clauses.

One angry former staff member at CMU has given us the names of others who have also sought their own legal advice, but in his words they “have been shown the door”. We understand there are attempts underway to settle the official grievances.

But The Eye have also received a huge number of critical comments from academics that the mainstream media in Wales continue to ignore the mounting crisis at CMU as officials have undertaken the enormous alterations needed to accommodate thousands of extra students.

Chaos?

One of our contacts at the university 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.”

They want more and more students in Cardiff

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 remarkable comments from staff are set against a disturbing backdrop.

The university 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 CMU said it had “nose dived”.

The questions were ‘vexatious’ apparently

But our own questions to the university about the growing crisis under FOIA legislation have been met with a blanket refusal to provide answers.

Officials have stated that the queries from our Editor Phil Parry were “vexatious”.

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

The ‘sandwich saga’ has become notorious at CMU

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

Meanwhile an internal document to staff at CMU detailing the huge expansion has been condemned by one of our whistlebowers 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”.

How much was spent on upgrading facilities for CMU students compared with the legal costs?

A number of Professor Aitchison’s staff have analysed the statistics given in the document and are deeply unimpressed. One told us:  “In the VC news update there are some obvious discrepancies in some of the cherry-picked figures that any academic can spot”.

The source claims there are major differences in anticipated turnover in the paper for 2018/19 to the statistic given in the Strategic Plan for CMU, and continues: “So which figure is correct? The previously published strategic plan or the latest Pravda update?”.

The UCU said a health survey was postponed

A staff survey of Health and Wellbeing has now been carried out after we revealed it had been postponed, but the timing has been questioned by staff who claim it was conducted following our disclosures. One told us:  (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’”.

Another of our sources criticised the calibre 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 who have been at the university for some time are praised by the contact: “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”.

The mainstream media have failed to report the crisis

Even as the scandal at CMU has been kept from the mainstream media, The Eye have been inundated with desperate comments from distressed academics, and the latest says they are “demoralised and demotivated”. One contact told us earlier:  “Staffing levels are completely inadequate. Sickness levels and grievances are through the roof across the university.”

Is CMU a ‘rudderless ship’?

Another of our sources within the Welsh university sector said:“They are rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic”. A different unhappy academic has told us the university is in “turmoil” and in a state of “carnage”.

The university responded to an earlier request for details under the FOIA completely denying information from one of our contacts that Professor Aitchison and her deputy had been placed on ‘sick leave’ as the huge changes unfolded and the drive for more students came under fire from academics at CMU. We had also asked officials who now is in charge at the university amid accusations from the academics, that it is a “rudderlessship”.

Normally answers come in weeks

Normally responses to FOIA requests take several weeks, as in the case of the refusal on the grounds our questions were “vexatious”, but remarkably these denials came within hours, and CMU officials stressed that “Professor Cara Aitchison … is working normally”.

The questions were also sent to a senior official at CMU who is one of Professor Aitchison’s acolytes marked “urgent” but there has been no reply.

Perhaps there will be more urgency now after our evidence of further unhappiness in CMU.

Or perhaps not…

 

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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