Tag Archives: FASS


In our piece on the forthcoming REF we reported that FASS apparently likes impact from ‘mew’ projects. A small but dedicated number of subscribers asked subtext to explain. Our first thoughts were that this was simply an acronym. Marketisation Educational Work. Multinational Experimental Writing. Multi-agency Economy Waffle.

Research was clearly needed, so we knuckled down and spent almost two minutes on the Googles in search of the answers. In turns out that those folk in FASS are really at the cutting edge in terms of the up-to-the-minute state of the art research trends. Mew projects are the very latest in cross disciplinary developments involving cyberspace research, sociology, spirituality and anthropological work. ‘Mew is … pink, bipedal … with mammalian features. Its snout is short and wide, and it has triangular ears and large, blue eyes. It has short arms with three-fingered paws, large hind legs and feet with oval markings on the soles, and a long, thin tail ending in an ovoid tip. Its fur is so fine and thin, it can only be seen under a microscope. Since Mew can make itself invisible at will, very few people have knowingly seen it, leading some scientists to declare it extinct and most to assume it to be a mirage.’ claim various Pokémon websites.

Or has FASS teamed up with Mew Developments, a chartered building company which has been delivering superior building projects in and around the Lyme Regis area for over 20 years?

Excited by the new ‘disruptive’ turn taken by FASS, we were somewhat deflated to discover that it was merely a typo on their webpage – it should have read ‘new’ projects!



The announcement that the Football University is to go ahead means that the issue can finally be discussed openly. The new institution will be a separate entity and not a part of Lancaster University in any way. It will be controlled by two companies – UA92 Ltd (the holding company) and UA92 Manchester Ltd (operations) – in which Lancaster will have a substantial stake. How substantial a stake is still unknown, though the sum of £4M for a 40% share was suggested at an early stage in the discussions.

The ‘Managing Director’ of both companies has been named as Brendan Flood, a Manchester lettings magnate and a director of Burnley football club. The choice of Mr. Flood appears to be an odd one. He is founder and a director of UCFB, an education company with campuses at Wembley, Burnley FC and, recently, at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium, offering degree courses in sports-related media, marketing, finance, psychology, coaching and event-management. Very like, in fact, the proposed curriculum for UA92, and aimed at the same student market. It’s as if Pep Guardiola was to pop up in the dugout alongside José Mourinho at the next game at Old Trafford. Is an early merger with UA92 on the cards?



It is uncertain how much the Singapore-based billionaire Peter Lim – the main financial backer of the Class of 92 – will be involved in UA92. His name certainly figured in the early negotiations with Lancaster. However, there are signs his business relationship with Neville & Co may have come under strain. Earlier this year Lim’s Singapore company Rowsley had to issue a profits warning to investors, partly due to the poor performance of the Class of 92 businesses in Manchester, 75% of which is owned by Peter Lim. This was followed by Ryan Giggs’ and Gary Neville’s failed central Manchester development scheme (see subtext 158), a setback for Lim’s Manchester property development ambitions. Intriguingly, the same Brendan Flood is also a partner in Giggs’ and Neville’s Jacksons Row Development Partnership. It’s a small world, is Manchester property development.



For Lancaster staff, the immediate impact of the venture will be on those working in IT support, HR, marketing, compliance and quality assurance. subtext understands that individuals from these areas will be seconded to begin the daunting task of setting up a new university from scratch. What is not known is whether this will be voluntary or be deemed to be part of the individual’s employment contract. There is also the question of the impact of withdrawing experienced staff from areas that are already under-resourced and where work stress is worryingly high. Will there be like-for-like replacement of the seconded? Past practice in the University would suggest not. No doubt the campus unions will have prepared a long list of searching questions to present to management.

While academic colleagues may have thought they could get away with having nothing to do with UA92, it seems the academic leadership of FASS has been playing Simon swaps. Simon Guy, erstwhile FASS Dean, has been seconded as Academic Director of UA92, while Simon Bainbridge, previously Deputy Dean, is now Acting Dean of FASS for the next year.



One of the arguments used in favour of Lancaster’s involvement in the Football University was that the Manchester United connection would enhance the attraction of the University to potential international students, particularly in the Far East. Admittedly, the potential is somewhat lessened now that David Beckham is no longer involved in the Class of 92 but it was still an opportunity too good to miss (so it was said).

Unfortunately, cashing in on footballing fame may not be as straightforward as it sounds. Celebrity endorsement is big business these days, and it doesn’t come cheap, thanks to the ruthless marketing of companies who own the ‘image rights’ of the celebs. In the case of the Class of 92, endorsement is handled by an outfit called Mint Media, which also owns the image rights of Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo (now that would be an endorsement worth getting!). And who owns Hong Kong-based Mint Media? Why none other than Mr. Peter Lim, financial backer of the Class of 92 (see above). We can but hope that when the University seeks to use Paul Scholes’ sunny features to promote the benefits of a Lancaster MBA, Mr. Lim will be amenable to providing us with mates’ rates for the job.


More creeping centralisation afoot. The subtext collective understands that the Dean of FASS Simon Guy, after extensive consultation (with the Vice Chancellor), has decided to consider an external search for Heads of several departments. Professor Guy has plans to draw up terms of reference to enable a search this term. The natives are not happy about what they consider yet further denuding of their departmental autonomy. Apparently, the Dean sees this simply as a way of dealing with a lack of willing and/or quality candidates for the posts. The Vice Chancellor expressed a preference that, ideally, the position would be filled by a Professor, since it is more reasonable to ask someone who has reached this more senior stage of their career than other colleagues. Subsequently, subtext has learnt that a flowchart appeared (conveniently) in August detailing the direction of travel of any future HoD appointments. This shows that the VC will have a direct part in all such appointments. The circulation of this document was apparently very restricted – on a need to know basis. There is maybe an argument that sensitive financial arrangements need to be handled in a cloak and dagger fashion, but the process of selecting your next line manager should not be so restricted.

This is surely an area that should be transparent. If nothing else, it is a slap in the face to the numerous non-professorial staff who have carried out the thankless role of HoD to a very good standard over the years.