A mystery whistleblower who is blogging under the name Kingston University London Dissenter is exposing corruption within Higher Education institutes, and he or she wants everyone to know about it.
According to the blog, the University and College Union (UCU) have recently polled Kingston University as the second worst university for bullying.
The anonymous blogger, whose site has been live for almost a year now, said in a spoof letter from the university’s Vice Chancellor Julius Weinberg:
“Students contribute through volunteering (they can’t get paid work), they make the streets safer when they’re pissed, they sustain my job and salary.”
The Kingston University London Dissenter’s Blog describes itself as “A blog that highlights aggressive management at Kingston and other UK universities”, but is shrouded in mystery as to who this Kingston whistleblower really is.
The cogent blog exposes some harsh truths of the current working conditions for Higher Education staff and teachers, reiterating the perception of the UK as an over-educated, over-worked and underpaid country.
As well as Weinberg being referred to as ‘ratty’, mock posts include bogus messages from Edith Sim (jokingly titled ‘C Nesbitt’ in the blog) the former Dean of Science, Engineering and Computing and Lesley-Jane Eales-Reynolds Deputy Vice Chancellor of Education.
After receiving a staff newsletter from Weinberg, the blogger said:
“Many staff at Kingston feel that he is the most authoritarian of vice-chancellors; recall the consultation exercises following which he did exactly what he wanted to all along; recall the summary treatment of the Head of Surveying, grade 10 demotions and Business and Law’s proposed performance measures, all the early retirements (at the insistence of bullying deans) of those who would have preferred to stay, the threats to schools that don’t pull their socks up (or at least improve their NSS scores).”
There is no illusion about vice chancellors’ paypackets; the reality of their wages being astronomical, especially in comparison to the ever-decreasing benefits of university teachers. The unidentified blogger explains that staff at Plymouth University have taken a 30 per cent pay cut of late, as well as them having to pay for their parking unless they are on a zero-hour contract; which is also a work condition that many Kingston lecturers are now under.
A particularly harrowing consequence of the commodification of universities in todays climate is emphasised in Loss of a colleague. Posted on 6 October 2014, the writer explained that a support technician for Kingston University died of a heart attack. Only in his early fifties, he was under a lot of stress at the university as well as worrying about the job re-application process. There was an even more disturbing case at Imperial College London which can be read here.
The mere fact that a Higher Education professional feels the need to expose these truths shows the real need for a change in the university, whether that be the internal renunciation of an oppressive hierarchy, or a bigger, more societal change in the financing of universities.
A poem posted on 6 February of this year on the Kingston University London Dissenter’s blog perfectly encapsulates the attitude to VC’s that is certainly not condensed to just Kingston University:
A Dean in a Windmill by Ronnie Tuninga
“A dean worked at Kingston, so smug and so right
There’s nobody there now but a whole lot of shite