Voices of dissent

August 5, 2005

The defence by vice-chancellor Richard Davies of his slash-and-burn policies at Swansea University ("Minor pain, major gain", July 29) is as flawed as the policies themselves.

From the announcement of the closures on the radio and cancellation of promised student places to the threat to sue the Association of University Teachers, the shake-up at Swansea has created considerable distress among staff, students and their representatives.

Davies refers to Swansea AUT support for "about 20 staff" and "a group of students" who submitted a petition to the university visitor. The number of petitioners was in fact more than 300 and included the students' union and Swansea Amicus. Very many more staff, while not wanting to raise their heads above the parapet, expressed support for it and deplored what the vice-chancellor was doing to the institution. The vice-chancellor's policies are deeply unpopular.

As for the visitor's report itself, no one who has read it could not conclude that it is so one-sided as to undermine itself. For Davies to represent such a document as vindication of his policies is an insult to the pursuit of truth and knowledge to which any university should aspire.

Swansea Association of University Teachers

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