Tag Archives: Top Floor


Along with completely obliterating the University Court, the top table has further gutted the responsibilities and the powers of the Senate, and given them to the University Council. The Senate consists of all department heads, all faculty deans, all college principals, four faculty lecturers, four faculty associate deans, two SU officers, four students, and a non-academic staff member, as well as the senior management team.

The body that most broadly represents the interests of the faculties, departments, colleges, and students’ union, now has no power to open, close, or prevent the opening or closure of faculties, departments, colleges, and the students’ union. Senate’s approval or disapproval will now have no sway over the decisions of a Council which:

– Got rid of the one post reserved for non-academic members of staff.
– Got rid of the one post reserved for a member of the local council.
– Got rid of University Court, and now has sole power over who sits on the nominations committee, the body responsible for appointing its members. Self-perpetuating oligarchy much?
– Extended the maximum term of office for lay members, who have no day-to-day involvement with the university and know none of the people affected by their decisions, from six years to nine years.
– Doesn’t upload its minutes for months at a time.
– Stripped the university press officer and LUSU Vice-President (Campaigns & Communications) of its right to observe proceedings.

Why was this done? The rationale was that it HAD to be done due to the Code of Practice that university governance bodies HAVE to observe. When it was pointed out to the top table that this was nonsense, the reason was changed to ‘the new Office for Students might want us to do it when it’s established.’ Better safe than sorry.

The University Council – which consists of the senior management team, two student representatives, five senators and NINE external lay members – now has zero constitutional restrictions on its behaviour. It doesn’t even have joint responsibility for appointing the Vice-Chancellor anymore – that privilege now belongs solely to the Council. And the saddest part about it? Senate committed this act of constitutional harakiri on ITSELF. YOUR LUSU President, YOUR Head of Department, YOUR Faculty Dean, YOUR College Principal, voted to stop adequately representing your interests. If anybody ends up for the chop, they’ll have no-one to blame but themselves.

What’s more, subtext does not have anybody on the Council willing to share information, as people have deemed their self-importance to be more valuable than transparency and the public interest. Even so, we managed to cover all of this this year, and you can read our coverage below.





Yet another senior management post is currently being advertised, this time a Pro-Vice Chancellor for ‘Engagement’. Some time ago, we supplemented our PVC for quality and standards and our PVC for the student experience with a new PVC for education, to add to our dangerously understaffed top floor. It then seemed that the number of education-related head honchos threatened the status of those on the research side of the stairs, as this autumn another senior management post was advertised, at a to-be-negotiated, but one assumes eye-watering, salary, adding more top brass to the research pontiffocracy. Again, exactly what this person was expected to do was not clear. The REF was alluded to but no actual measurable duties were specified other than ‘answering to’ the existing PVC for Research and Enterprise.

And now it is the turn of ‘Engagement’. Remembering that each department already has at least one person responsible for teaching / research / etc who answers to their faculty Associate Dean, who in turn answers to a Dean, who in turn answers to at least one PVC, we felt it was time to look more closely at what these rather expensive new colleagues will do for their daily crust.

Simon Hoggart used to say that if the opposite of a politician’s statement (e.g. ‘we support hard working families’) was ridiculous then the original statement wasn’t worth making. Kenwright has suggested that if it is not clear how the holder of a management post’s success or failure could be judged after a given interval from the job description, then the post isn’t worth having. So, let’s look at the PVC for engagement’s ‘specific duties’, shall we?

– University Planning and Resource Group
– Internal groups as advised by the Vice-Chancellor
– Business and Community Engagement Group (Chair)
– Various promotions and professorial pay committees
– ‘We are Lancaster’ (Lead)
– Dukes Partnership
– Lead on the Public Arts Strategy
– Santander Advisory Group (Chair)
– Appropriate approvals as delegated by Senate or the Vice-Chancellor

Well that’s perfectly clear then!

Those of us unfortunate enough to have to assess module descriptions are told to use Bloom’s Taxonomy of measurable verbs to ensure our learning outcomes can be tested (e.g. ‘able to explain phlogiston theory’, not ‘understands phlogiston theory’). If our leaders cannot come up with more convincing descriptions of what their new chums will do, other than add critical mass to the air of collective self-importance with which they stride across campus between meetings clutching folders and frowning earnestly, then one wonders whether the money might be better spent on subscriptions to journals, books for the library, bottles of deuterated solvents or anything else which would actually enhance research, learning or the university in general.