Leaked report shows fear and chaos in the Thames Valley University

November 7, 1997

A LEAKED internal report on Thames Valley University paints a warts-and-all picture of an institution beset by staff/management antipathy, organisational chaos and fears over educational standards.

The document, seen by The THES, was prepared by four senior TVU managers at the request of vice chancellor Mike Fitzgerald. It is based on staff views and was presented to governors last week.

The university is preparing an action plan to tackle numerous problems. These came to a head when a press report, based on an internal memo telling assessors to pass students who narrowly failed, claimed that the university was "dumbing down" its degrees.

Dr Fitzgerald has since said that the instruction was a "mistake made for the best of reasons" and he rejects any dumbing down.

The internal report says: "In general, relations between staff and the university management give cause for serious concern. Managers are perceived to be firefighting through a number of crises, with no long-term, strategic implementation plan.

"Management are perceived to be out of touch with how staff are feeling and do not value their contribution.

"The culture within the university is perceived by many staff to have become alienating and has created a climate of fear, distrust and powerlessness."

"While the greatest source of concern was over the pass rate being lowered, there were also anxieties about missing transcripts, students receiving inaccurate information about exam marks and resits, the poor opinions of our external examiners, database errors and the operation and staffing of the Central Assignment Handling Unit".

Dr Fitzgerald condemned the leaking of the report but refused to comment. He said the university had sought legal advice and would take action on the dumbing down claim.

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