Vanity management (2 of 2)

December 20, 2012

Although the University and College Union branch at Queen Mary called off its strike in protest against principal Simon Gaskell's metrics-led dismissals and proposed performance management scheme, the institution continues to be damaged. Productive colleagues are voting with their feet.

The restructured School of Biological and Chemical Sciences can already count departures from the ranks of its more promising researchers to the universities of Durham, Bath, Manchester, Greenwich, Imperial College London, King's College London and Washington State University; another is considering a move to University College London. Temporary staff now carry a major load in undergraduate teaching. The vacant permanent "teaching and research" positions are proving hard to fill, despite promising candidates being steered away from staff members who could advise them about what they will discover if appointed.

On 1 October, I presented at an appeal the case that my own dismissal was unfair and had nothing to do with redundancy. I explained that my position had been readvertised without any significant change in the job description and that colleagues who had fallen foul of "redundancy criteria" were nevertheless redeployed. I also provided evidence that the criteria were waived in the case of one professor still in post. The appeal panel questioned the head of school, who had fed the performance indicators into the process, his own record included. He conceded that the published criteria had been revised at the time of their application. Any momentary embarrassment this caused was resolved when the chairman of the panel said that this was acceptable as long as the criteria were applied to everyone under consideration.

It seems to me that readjusting the already readjusted and published criteria to accommodate a single individual is unfair. I cannot help but worry about Queen Mary as a whole, as its managers seem to be out of control.

Fanis Missirlis, Research professor, Centre for Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute, Mexico City

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