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Once again, subtext has an avalanche of news stories regarding the Gary Neville University – ‘UA92’ to give it its official title, and ‘The Golden Goose’ as it has come to be known in the subtext warehouse. Despite a thin editorial roster, we have managed to produce hundreds of words per issue on this ongoing fiasco. It’s subtext’s safety net. If the world stops spinning, and absolutely nothing of interest happens – from the meatiest scandal to the tittle-tattle of the daily grind – we can always rely on Gary and his mates to provide us with material.
It feels like only yesterday that the subtext drones were giggling at the idea. The over-under on the whole thing being abandoned was three months.
And yet here we are, nearly two years later, and the University is still ploughing ahead with the public embarrassment that is the Gary Neville University. Let’s just recap what we’ve covered this academic year:
– The Conservative Trafford Council that was all systems go on approving all of the Class of 92’s requests for planning permission has been voted out, in no small part because it pushed the project in the face of strong local opposition, to be replaced by a minority Labour Council supported by a Green Party that wants Gary Neville out.
– Gary’s gang came within a hair’s breadth of setting up this institution with Salford University, only to jilt them at the 11th hour because there was a better prospect further north.
– They released a prospectus promising the chance to ‘make amazing happen.’ Unironically.
– They want a ‘Principal/Chief Executive Officer’ with a ‘disruptive approach to teaching’.
– We discovered that the owner of the ‘UA92’ title, one Brendan Flood, already runs a rival institution offering the same degrees in the same locale and using the same name, for which he is subject to legal action.
– Gary’s gang took to Twitter to beg businesses to get involved and start offering placements, once it became clear that Microsoft alone was not going to provide the 2000+ placements needed to fulfil UA92’s wild promises.
– UA92 does not have any fully approved sites yet.
– Gary’s and Giggsy’s original plans for their multi-million pound Jackson’s Row scheme had to be withdrawn following widespread angry protests. The revised plans were then attacked by English Heritage because of ‘the cumulative harm that would be caused to highly graded listed buildings’.
– The market research into the need for a UA92 has been so limited as to be non-existent, so that local residents don’t even know what the potential spending power of its students is likely to be.
– UA92’s application to be an educational sponsor for Tier 4 Visa students appears to have been rejected by the Home Office (see our report below).
In all of this, Lancaster University has stayed silent, despite its reputation being trashed almost daily. Though there might have been cuts to student services and staff departments over the last year or so, you can’t say that the top table hasn’t made it obvious which good causes those savings are going towards. So stay tuned – there are still three issues of subtext due out before the academic year is over.