Tuesday, 25 October 2011

'Going Forward' as a university

Morning comrades, I'm in a presentation by our new VC, whom I like on a personal level. He's got the charm of a Northern club comic - I'm waiting for a mother-in-law joke - and it's clear that despite titling his presentation 'going forward' (urge to kill: rising), he's got a clear, coherent and committed (feel my alliteration) sense of what we should be doing.

He is, I think, on the side of the angels. He's already described the government's HE plan as 'untried, untested and unwanted', said that every week brings a new state directive which doesn't need reading because it will be supplanted by another one next week, and suggested that the idea is to generate a set of private institutions and protect the posh universities by screwing places like ours. He's very slick with the MBA-speak ('business-facing', 'wealth creators') but he accepts that these are suspect terms. We're going to be 'the opportunity university', whatever that means, but he's also keen to stress research.

Now we're on to student surveys and employability: we're dropping. There's an easy answer to some of this: students are annoyed that a new curriculum and structure was dumped on them without any notice or justification. The Executive's considered response is that unhappy students have been manipulated by subversive teachers. That's quite Orwellian: they'll take credit for happy students and call shenanigans if the scores aren't what they wanted.

The presentation is odd: the powerpoint is packed with verb-free buzz phrases, but his speech is very pro-education (not a given either here or in the sector, sadly). The best bit is 'I believe that students are not consumers', for which I could give him a big hug.

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