Thursday 19th March 2015
In a very recent faculty school staff meeting the vice-chancellor said a couple of things you may wish to spend some time considering.
Firstly, in reference to a comment about how our management-engendered UKBA crisis had placed the university in its current predicament, he said that it was a mistake to suggest ‘simple’ reasons to complex problems.
I very much doubt any of us would disagree with that. However, what doesn’t seem to have quite registered with this new VC, as it didn’t with his predecessors, is the corollary: ‘simple’ answers to complex problems are also a mistake. And, unfortunately, for the vast majority of current (and, sadly, recent) staff those ‘simple’ solutions have had a disastrously negative effect that has exasperated rather than solved our ‘complex’ problems. Specifically, job cuts, course cuts, and speed ups, have not reversed our declining student numbers they have furthered that decline. Therefore, perhaps it’s time for our Vice-chancellors to execute a self-limiting ordnance and resist the temptation to simply ‘do something’ when our own history has already proved that that ‘something’ has always made our situation worse, and the spiral down has continued. When in a hole, there has to come a point when you stop digging further and instead invest in a strategy (thinking time) in order to devise the best way to climb out. We could, for simplicities sake, call that an ‘investment strategy’. Let’s face it, we simply can’t keep cutting our staff in the completely illusory hope of increasing our income by doing so. It simply doesn’t add up.
Secondly, in reference to his first point, he said the feeling of despondency (‘negativity’ he called it) was palpable throughout London Met. Specifically, he said we don’t have the ‘buzz’ associated with the sort of university we really needed to be (and I’m sure we’d all want to be). He agreed that the Staff Experience Survey (SES) reflected that. Though, he didn’t pick up on the point made by many of us on previous occasions, that the 19 well-paid members of his Executive Group where completely, and (according to the independent survey consultants they hired) statistically significantly at odds on every survey category compared to the rest of the university staff in their own ‘contentment’ (let’s call it ‘positivity’). I’m sure all of you will acknowledge that negative feeling, and most will probably feel it now – it’s rather difficult to be positive when you are regularly threatened with the sack, told even though you work every hour available it’s not enough, and some how student dissatisfaction at their lot is your lot. But, perhaps, that is just looking at things too ‘simply’.
We can start to discuss our positive alternate investment strategy for London Met at next week’s campus-wide joint UCU/Unison branch meeting. Please make every effort to attend. It really is time your voice was heard.
NORTH CAMPUS: Tuesday 24th
1-2pm Graduate Centre, Room: GCG-08
Liz Lawrence, UCU President will be speaking
CITY CAMPUS Wednesday 25th
12-1pm Moorgate, Room: MG1-02
Sally Hunt, UCU General Secretary will be speaking
London Met UCU (Chair)