Tag Archives: LUMS Space Programme


Reports of a curious chill emanating from D Floor have reached the subtext inbox. Apparently, Professional Services roles that are vacant are likely to, err… stay vacant, at least for the foreseeable future. Staff have reported to us that they have been told that new or replacement roles that have been approved at departmental/unit and faculty/division level are being knocked back by senior management. There are also reports of maternity cover not being provided, and of regrades being rejected out of hand.

It is not entirely clear what this practice is supposed to achieve, but likely outcomes seem to be an increase in stress and workload, and a corresponding decrease in wellbeing and productivity, for those Professional Services staff whose areas have vacancies. And the reports around maternity cover, if true, and lack of regrades, which are definitely true, send a worrying signal about the University’s progress on addressing its massive Gender Pay Gap. There has been no statement to all University staff about this, but an email to Professional Services managers that was passed to subtext confirms that the University is basically worried about its cash flow. The rather euphemistic ‘vacancy management control’, i.e. definitely not a recruitment freeze, is used to describe what management is trying to achieve in order to meet its ‘Adjusted Net Operating Cashflow’ targets. No doubt there is a flowchart somewhere that explains it all.

Does this mean the University is about to go bankrupt? This seems rather unlikely, but the massive hole in the University’s finances caused by the shambles that is the LUMS extension, as well as various cost overruns on campus vanity building projects… um, the Capital Programme, seem likely to have weakened the University’s financial position. Plus, D Floor will be nervous about the long-overdue Augar review and of course the ever-present spectacle that gives us so much joy, Brexit.

What seems strange, however, is why Professional Services staff are having to bear the brunt of this recruitment chill – could it be something to do with the REF, perhaps? Or with the perception that Lancaster has a higher ratio of Professional Services staff to academics than many of our so-called comparator institutions? Reports from friends of subtext at some of these institutions of the absolute clustershambles that centralising and reducing admin support can result in – for staff, students and pretty much everyone – should give us pause for thought.


We aren’t so nimbyist as to complain about the eyesore that campus has become or so stupid as to think that building works can be completed without a bit of disruption, but we draw the line at people being unable to work. As reported in subtext 166, Bowland North spent the tail end of summer covered in polythene to be sandblasted, blocking out all natural light. With no warning as to what work was even being done on the building, some staff members rather innocently left their windows open, leading to numerous colleagues spluttering and choking in the dust filled corridors.

Meanwhile, a disabled toilet was carpeted in stone dust and written off for the day, because its window couldn’t close.

But never mind the staff – the university is all about the students, and about providing a top ten educational experience. In the nine-and-a-half-grand-feez climate, students deserve to have their sessions spruced up a bit. Spruced up they most assuredly have been, with the intense seismic episodes, deafening crashes, strange chemical smells, dust showers, and contractors popping in to check the ceilings haven’t caved in proving to be a welcome addition to the learning experience. Yes, Fylde is the place to be if you want your learning to be exciting, but students who find learning boring may have enjoyed their sessions in the Charles Carter building, where a large generator was drowning out everything anyone was saying. In many cases, students and lecturers abandoned their sessions entirely in search of somewhere else. If they fancied moving into Management School Lecture theatres 5-8, they were bitterly disappointed. Apart from some turf being removed, seemingly nothing was done to it for the entirety of Michaelmas term. Why it was completely closed for all of that time, as we reported in subtext 171, was anybody’s guess…

… Until subtext 177, when we revealed that everything stopped because the project turned out to cost more than originally quoted. So work will resume in January 2019. Great. Hopefully they’ll get it right on the second attempt, rather than on the third, which was the case for some paving stones on the south end of campus. Cancelling or suspending part of a vast building project for financial reasons causes us to question how well this project has been managed. Doing so to make sure campus is going to be at all navigable by the start of 18-19, as is the case with the cancellation of the ‘Wetlands Bridge’ project near the Charles Carter building, leaves us in no doubt that this has been a logistical cock-up from one end to the other. See our earlier article, DISABILITIES for more commentary on the implications that all of this has had for disabled students.

We at subtext will continue to keep a close eye on how well promises are being kept and deadlines are being stuck to. Until then, please enjoy our efforts to do so from the last year, below.














Given the frequent cessation of construction on campus, with staff and students alike occasionally pausing outside fenced off areas with no workmen in them and thinking ‘why aren’t they DOING anything?!’ readers may not have noticed that construction work taking place around the Management School has been at a complete standstill since December 2017. According to a memo, sent out by Management School Dean Angus Laing, the pause in activity was to allow for ‘an examination of the programme’s objectives and costs.’ We have run this quotation through the subtext jargon translator, which produced the following: ‘turns out the project costs more than quoted and will take longer than estimated.’

Perhaps we oughtn’t to be cynical, but friends of the collective who work in the industry tell us that this sort of vacillating is part of its business model. Contractors woo businesses with a quick turnaround and a low price, pause in the middle of it after ‘realising’ that they need more time and money, and negotiate another pay bonanza. Is Facilities aware of this? We would hope so, although you would think that if they were, they would have the savvy not to distribute initial timescales and costs through internal communications. It isn’t helping Facilities’ reputation for appalling punctuality and financial imprudence.

The building work around the Management School will recommence in January 2019(?!), and the over-under on its completion date is currently late 2020.