Reading the article on London Metropolitan University’s new strategic plan, we had to smile (“Grants and teaching checks in Met vision”, News, 20 August). Vice-chancellor John Raftery’s reference to US research that shows a link between student employment and academic performance was something that the University and College Union drew to his attention during the consultation period (and is not quite as straightforward as the article suggests).
What does not make us smile, however, is the strengthening of an authoritarian management style that has been at the root of London Met’s problems since we were first created. The euphemistic threat to find “pathways out” of the university for those who are not aligned with the mission would appear to be a violation of the legal requirement to ensure academic freedom. We have already had cause to complain to the vice-chancellor over comments to the effect that staff who cannot hack the pressure at London Met should seek easier jobs elsewhere. We consider this to be a violation of health and safety law. The vice-chancellor sought legal advice over our complaint, but subsequently said that he had been “misquoted”, from which readers can draw their own conclusion about the advice he received.
Staff and their union representatives have not been consulted over the planned introduction of lecture observations by managers and the details have not yet been provided. This is all the more concerning when, in the most recent management staff survey, 83 per cent of all staff said that they had no faith or confidence in the leadership of senior management. For our part, we in the UCU will be closely monitoring management performance in the coming year.
David Hardman, acting secretary
Mark Campbell, chair UCU at London Metropolitan University