Leaked paper describes Swansea’s economics staff as a ‘cancer’

Battle continues between staff and management including senior figures Nigel and Niall Piercy

February 19, 2015

A leaked paper written by management at Swansea University’s School of Management, where senior figures Nigel and Niall Piercy have been at the centre of controversy, describes critics among its economics staff as a “cancer” that “must be removed”.

Meanwhile, Swansea’s students’ union has been refused access to CCTV footage that it requested to investigate claims that copies of a student newspaper containing a report on the leaked document had disappeared from a university building soon after being made available.

Nigel Piercy is dean of the school and his son Niall Piercy is pro dean for research and engagement. The Piercys’ tenure, which began in 2013, has been marked by a series of conflicts with both staff and students, principally in economics.

The 2 February edition of student newspaper The Waterfront reported on a leaked “position paper” written by the school’s management in October setting out a case for closing economics.

The paper is scathing about Swansea’s economics staff – although The Waterfront reports only the claim that they are manipulating “students and the students’ union to do their dirty work”.

The position paper, seen by Times Higher Education, says that the school’s efforts to reverse two decades of “terminal decline” in economics have been “entirely undermined and obfuscated by the actions of certain legacy staff in economics”, who have “blocked change”, “played political games”, “sabotaged teaching”, leaked “damaging (and inaccurate) stories to the press” and “deliberately lied to and manipulated students to cause upset”.

“Certain senior individuals have created themselves into a cancer – that must now be removed to allow the rest of the school to survive,” it adds, mooting two waves of redundancies, in this summer and next.

Regarding the reported disappearance of copies of The Waterfront, Swansea’s students’ union has asked the university for the relevant CCTV footage of the building. However, a spokeswoman for Swansea said that the request had been denied because of “data protection issues”.

The union’s education officer, Ilana Cohen, denied being manipulated by economics staff, saying: “My role is solely directed by students.”

A petition she launched in November raising concern about the negative publicity surrounding the school garnered more than 1,000 signatures. Professor Nigel Piercy now has to consult with her over any communication with students after her complaints about the tone of his remarks to disgruntled postgraduates.

In December, he was forced to backtrack on plans to remove economics postgraduates’ office facilities to a separate building from those of other postgraduates amid claims that they were creating a “toxic atmosphere”.

In August, a restructuring document written by Professor Nigel Piercy announced that economics – previously a separate “section” within the school – would be merged with accounting and finance. It was proposed that labour economists would be relocated to a new “self-funding research institute” outside the school, but that plan was later dropped.

However, the Swansea spokeswoman said that economics would continue to be “central to teaching and research in the school”, with expanded staffing and student applications.

paul.jump@tesglobal.com

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Construction workers erecting barriers

Directly linking non-EU recruitment to award levels in teaching assessment has also been under consideration, sources suggest