Students paid after 'nepotism' inquiry

April 17, 1998

Students have been compensated Pounds 100 each for "unacceptable mismanagement" following unrest at Anglia Polytechnic University's Business School.

The students at Anglia Business School, sitting a diploma of management studies course, had demanded refunds and threatened to withdraw from the course following general complaints of mismanagement, and allegations of nepotism and bullying made against Business School dean Hugh Jenkins.

The problems have centred on the performance of Professor Jenkins's son, Jonathan, who is a lecturer at the school's department of management development. An internal investigation has cleared Professor Jenkins of charges of nepotism, but staff have been calling for a full, external inquiry, which the university is resisting.

In minutes of a meeting between staff and students on March 25, pro-vice-chancellor Steve Marshall acknowledges that the verdict of the internal inquiry "was not fully accepted by everyone in the business school" and that "there were still internal differences to be settled".

The students' criticisms centred on the devaluation of their course as a result of the mismanagement of a recent restructuring, time-tabling chaos, poor teaching and poor conditions. Students also expressed concerns about the allegations of nepotism and bullying.

The students, the minutes say, "felt the school was willing to offer a service that was second best", and that the reputation of the school had been "shattered".

"Hugh Jenkins apologised for the situation that the business school was in and said that it was a failure on the part of the university," the minutes say. "He acknowledged the students' right not to accept the present situation, and hoped the problems would soon be resolved."

Specifically, Professor Jenkins apologised for "the mismanagement relating to time-tabling and the inconvenience caused by staff absentees".

Absentees include Jonathan Jenkins, who was on sick-leave for at least four weeks reportedly with pneumonia when the allegations were published in The THES and Private Eye.

Now back at work, Mr Jenkins has been moved to the business development unit on another campus with fewer teaching duties.

Another absentee is John Watts, head of the division of management development. As Mr Jenkins's line manager, Mr Watts formally raised the nepotism complaints. He has been suspended for the last seven weeks, and has now been asked by the university not to discuss his position.

This week a spokeswoman for the university confirmed: "Students have been compensated for inconvenience following staff absences and rescheduled lectures."

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