Tag Archives: UA92

WHEN I’M UA64

After all the hype, UA92 is now open and teaching inside a refurbished Kellogg’s cereal factory in Stretford, where we hope the students are all having a ‘grrreat!’ time.
The staff-student ratio is certainly looking impressive – almost Oxbridge-like – although this seems to owe more to the under-recruitment of students rather than the generous recruitment of staff. The subtext drones have picked up the number ’64’ on several occasions, which seems borne out by stories in the press such as ‘Ex-Manchester Utd stars’ university shunned by students after only recruiting 64 — despite promising 650 places’ in the S*n on 27 September. Due to such low numbers, very few teaching staff have been directly employed by UA92 – ‘maybe 8 or 9’, we hear.
During August and September, UA92 was aggressively marketing itself to students who found themselves in Clearing. How tricky was it to get in via that route? Prospective students needed the equivalent of three ‘D’s at A Level to get on to one of UA92’s degree schemes, whilst if they didn’t quite have those grades, they could still enrol for a 1-year Certificate of HE (with the possibility to switch onto the degree scheme later) with the equivalent of three ‘E’s.
Despite these worrying figures, it *is* possible to start a UA92 degree in November or January, so we may yet see the student numbers creep up. The links with Trafford College seem to be yielding a decent trickle of applicants, and UA92’s publicity – which if we’re honest is starting to grow on us – is emphasising how students can combine study at UA92 with work and caring responsibilities. And, hey, what’s not to like about being on a degree scheme with (very) small class sizes and a (very) spacious refurbished building?

Anecdotes from any current UA92 students or staff on ‘how it’s all going’ would be much appreciated.

STATE OF THE UNI

A moderately populated Great Hall played host to the final all-staff meeting on Tuesday 25 June, led by Vice-Chancellor Professor Mark E Smith, CBE, before his imminent departure to southerly climes. The majority of those present, apart from the conflagration of senior managers [is this the correct collective noun for senior managers? Readers are welcome to write in with alternative suggestions] that routinely accompanies the VC to such events, appeared to be Professional Services (PS) colleagues. Leaving aside the general reluctance of academic colleagues to turn up to such meetings, this may have been as much to do with it being exam board season as with concerns about the freeze, err, control on new recruitment, which affects only PS staff.

‘Let’s kick off’, said the VC, perhaps showing his enthusiasm for what may come to be regarded as one of the main legacies (or white elephants, perhaps) of his tenure, Lancaster’s very own football university. A little later, UA92 also got its own slide, and according to the VC everything is going swimmingly, with the first intake of students due to start in September and recruitment apparently very close to being on target. He was keen to stress, however, that UA92 had a very ‘different model’ for student recruitment, with multiple entry points for students, and that it definitely was not in any way comparable with the normal university recruitment cycle. It would of course be churlish to assume that this means that UA92 has in fact recruited very few students!

Before going sportsy though, the VC was keen to highlight the good news. Financially, the HE sector is in pretty good health, with Lancaster at the top of the distribution. The phrase ‘Expanding Excellence in England’, rather than applying to the VC’s feelings about his own emoluments, is the name of a Research England fund which will contribute £7.6m, alongside LU’s own £5.6m contribution, for the ‘Beyond Imagination’ project housed in LICA. There will be a new School of Architecture, with students starting their degrees from 2020. And there are a host of building initiatives on campus in progress or about to start, including the Health Innovation Campus, a £1m refurb of Edward Roberts Court, the LUMS Space Programme (he didn’t mention the multi-million pound stuff-up that delayed it in the first place), a £6m expansion of the Sports Centre, the Library Phase 3 (whether there will be any staff left to work there is another question he did not address), a 400 seat lecture theatre, an upgrade of our district heating system, and a refurb of Bailrigg House.

The VC claimed that these developments showed that the University was increasing its physical infrastructure at the same pace as increases in student numbers, and that the new lecture theatre provided physical proof that this was true. Staff who have had to teach after 6pm this year might wonder whether in fact this was true, or whether the new lecture theatre should in fact have been built a few years ago to prevent evening teaching in the first place. And staff who have been denied a regrade, or whose departments or units have had vacancies turned down might wonder if all this spending on making the campus look prettier could have been put to better use (more on this later).

The VC whizzed through a few other international developments – the new Leipzig venture will offer degrees in Business from later this year, and in Computer Science from 2020, and there will be a ‘Future Cities Research Institute’ jointly hosted by Lancaster with its long-standing partner in Malaysia, Sunway. And closer to home, he outlined the changes to the University’s senior leadership, most of which had already been shared via the news portal, with the addition that Professor Sharon Huttly’s Pro-VC role would expand to encompass responsibility for not only Education but also Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). This was a change from the previous plan, which was to have Stephen Decent look after EDI as part of the ‘people’ part of the Academic Development brief (which includes planning and resourcing). While the VC was keen to stress that all of the senior leadership had EDI as part of their brief, this move ‘created more bandwidth at senior level to work on EDI issues’. It will certainly be a welcome move for staff and students who have been campaigning on related issues to have EDI explicitly named in one of the Pro-VC titles, and with the greatest respect for Professor Decent, the optics of having yet another white man in charge of this portfolio were not great.

We have known since May that Professor Mandy Chetwynd would be retiring, and no doubt many subtext readers will wish her well and appreciate her long service to the University. What is not quite clear, which also came up in one of the questions to the VC, is what impact laying down the role of Provost for Student Experience, Colleges and the Library would have on… Colleges and the Library. Colleges in particular appear to have been under attack for a considerable period, with SCRs being closed, bars moving to central control, accommodation blocks spread around campus due to building work, and various college staff roles being reduced or centralised. It may be the case that this move represents the final nail in their coffin – until they are resurrected as nothing more than a convenient label for where students live in their first year.

The last substantive points in the VC’s speech, apart from a few warm words about the forthcoming graduation ceremonies, a reassurance (supposedly) that the Augar review could have been a lot worse, and a hurrah for our league table positions, were to do with the gender pay gap and the professional services freeze – sorry, vacancy control management. On the gender pay gap, the VC reported that there was reporting, reports, and engagement – but there seems to have been little actual action in the 15 months since Lancaster’s terrible pay gap statistics were first published. And this is hardly surprising, given that the expenditure on staff who have EDI work as their lead responsibility at Lancaster is considerably less than at many other HE institutions. And for the few roles we have, the pay also seems to be below par. Various reports are due to be published over the coming months (no doubt choosing to publish these in the summer when fewer staff and students are around is entirely accidental), so we will see what they contain.

On vacancy control, the VC followed his usual MO when faced with difficult questions, and retreated to technical details and graphs of figures showing the University’s adjusted net operating cashflow, where it was projected to be, and where we needed it to be in order not to get in to difficulties in future. But there was ‘no need to panic, absolutely a need to adjust the tiller’, he said, which may lead readers to wonder what icebergs lie ahead. The University faces no clear financial difficulties, apparently, but needs to be financially disciplined. How long this situation will continue, he said, depends on financial discipline. If student recruitment is strong, the period should be shorter. He was at pains to point out that it was not only Professional Services staff who were affected. The capital plan had already been adjusted – and no vacancy control would mean more adjustment. The consequences would be for example, not being able to address the longer teaching day (he did not mention that not having a prettier campus or not having a bigger sports centre are options). And, don’tchaknow, we’re all in this together: even the VC’s own office has had a vacancy turned down.

As the VC finished his remarks and turned to the questions submitted anonymously via the iLancaster app (human two-way interaction in the room is no longer desirable, apparently), it became clear that he had not, in fact reassured the University community on various issues. Numerous questions, a few submitted before he started speaking, but many during the session, related to the vacancy control. Others addressed UA92, paternity leave provision, the rumours of a closure of Religious Studies, advice for the new VC, neoliberalism in education, and why so few academics were present.

The VC gave a few convincing answers, but overall tended to deflect and refer back to his previous comments. Some of his answers may have given colleagues pause for thought. For instance, the idea that the vacancy controls required ‘imaginative thinking’ on behalf of managers in terms of how to address their staffing needs. No doubt many managers will be left imagining how their staff will cover the same (or higher) workloads with fewer people to do the work. The VC appeared to hint that in future there would also be controls (though he did not use this word) on academic recruitment, but that it was important to maintain staff-student ratios. And to a question about why PS staff were being targeted when there were some academics who apparently had not published or taught in years, the VC suggested this needed to be addressed through performance management, and that the new PDR process would allow this… and thus the seeds of division sown by this process seem to be bearing fruit already. One welcome clarification the VC provided was that maternity/parental leave cover should emphatically not be affected by vacancy control. Whether this message gets through to the people who have already knocked back requests for such cover (see letters, in this issue), or the managers who don’t even bother to apply in the first place because of the continuous pressure to find savings, remains to be seen.

SPAWT: NOTHING COMPARES TO UA92

On 27 September the University provided staff with another update on progress with its UA92 project. Senior managers were present to give us a most positive spin on the work which has taken place over the last year; including Simon Guy, FASS Dean and Interim Principal for 2017-18, and Craig Gaskell, the new Principal and CEO of UA92. Judging by the number of empty chairs in the Great Hall, attendance was clearly down on what was expected. Most of the allocated hour was taken up with promotional videos (x 2) and Simon and Craig giving us their take on things. ‘Exciting things’ are happening. UA92 will be ‘unlocking greatness’ through its ‘pioneer portfolio’. A UA92 degree is ‘more than just a degree’ – it is ‘game-changing’. Although it’s been a ‘tough, tough journey’ to date, with ‘bumps along the way’ and this year ‘we’ve got to bake this into a proper cake’ (big Bake Off fans, apparently), UA92 will be ‘making a massive difference to lives’ with the ‘amazing opportunities’ which will be on offer. Wow!

Except that when it came to explaining what a UA92 degree is about, it turns out it’s not that different from anything else on offer in HE apart from the Target Talent Curriculum, which runs through the programme (think ‘stick of rock’). Twenty credits per year are devoted to the TTC which is essentially about ‘character development’, for example resilience (how does that get assessed?). Anyway, the UA92 degree will be delivered in modular blocks (innovative!), with flexible start and finish dates (innovative!), admission to lower level awards, i.e. CertHE and DipHE (innovative!) and even possibly enabling a degree to be taken over two years (innovative!).

Not a few of us at the University have been asking for some time why Lancaster has bothered to join up with the likes of Gary Neville and private business in such a venture. Whilst proclaiming all the time that this venture was about a commitment to social mobility (called into question immediately by the huge efforts to obtain a Tier 4 licence in order to be able to recruit international students from the get-go), this presentation gave a clear answer, even though the question wasn’t asked. It’s about getting a physical toehold in Manchester, a springboard from which to tap into the business opportunities provided by the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ and grow student numbers (650 in 2019, forecast to increase to a total roll of 6,500 in 2028). Make no mistake about it, this is first and foremost about growth in student numbers, not just in the UK but globally.

Despite Lancaster’s top-ten position in the league tables, it seems its size and geographical location are seen as constraints. So, with the venture having been awarded government funding of £3m, Lancaster has been moving ahead fast over the last year, with admission of the first cohort due in September 2019. And yet…

– Programmes have been approved, but no modules have yet been written (how does that work in the world of the Competition and Markets Authority where applicants to universities are supposed to have clear information about course content?)
– No teachers have yet been recruited.
– The project is camping out at facilities provided at the Lancashire County Cricket ground.
– The old Kellogg building which has been purchased as the initial facility for this venture needs refurbishment – yet to get started let alone finished.

Cripes! Better get a move-on then. If the Resigned to the Spine project, the Health Innovation Building Site and the LUMS Space Gazing projects are anything to go by, the signs are not good. But perhaps contractors work faster in the big city.

Oh, one last thing. In case subtext readers don’t yet know the business partners involved in UA92, these are Microsoft and KPMG. KPMG? Yes, that’s right – the audit firm which was recently slammed (along with three other auditors) in the report of the Carillion Inquiry carried out by the government’s Work and Pensions Committee and the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee, with the chair of the BEIS Committee asserting that the auditors should be ‘in the dock’ for the ‘catastrophic’ Carillion collapse. While KPMG took a £29m pay packet as Carillion’s auditor for 19 years, the inquiry said that it ‘complacently’ signed off ‘fantastical figures’ and that ‘in failing to exercise professional scepticism towards Carillion’s accounting judgements over the course of its tenure as Carillion’s auditor, KPMG was complicit in them’. So a fit partner for the University? We will leave readers to judge. Thank goodness that the financial viability of UA92 itself was assessed by another big financial firm, PwC, which is of course much more competent than KPMG (except perhaps when it comes to organising academy awards ceremonies, or not advising clients to invest billions into offshore tax havens, as detailed in the Panama Papers and subtext 159).

GARY NEVILLE

We thought maybe we could adequately recap how the year has gone re: The Gary Neville University in a snappy hundred and fifty words. That’s University Academy 92, a private university that we’re partnering up with a group of ex Manchester United players to build. Sadly, condensing this omnishambles into a couple of paragraphs is too unconquerable a task, since the whole project has been bombarded with failure and incompetence from one end to the other.
 
So, we’re just going to dump all of the links to all of our Gary Neville University coverage (from 2017-18 only, mind)! Read all about the gibberish promotional literature, Trafford Council rejecting multiple building and redevelopment proposals, the resistance from Stretford residents, the Class of ’92 suing the managing director (who runs a rival outfit in the same area) of their own university over use of the name UA92, the drain it is proving to be on our own staffing resources, the unclear and potentially exploitative contracts the academic staff will be employed on, how their application to take on international students was DENIED, the total lack of any market research, the contradictions of the claims taken from the non-existent market research, the ‘lingerie football league’, and how they are unable to make any promises to prospective students about partners and placements because they haven’t got any despite begging on Twitter for months.
 
Is that everything? Your UA92 drone thinks it is, so here it all is, in one big lump. It is the most important story we have covered for the past two years, the most fertile golden goose in subtext history, and subtext is the ONLY publication where you can keep up to date on the blatant, blaring disaster just waiting to happen again and again and again. We feel we’ve earned your subscription and attention for our UA92 coverage alone – here it is below.

http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/subtext/2017/10/12/special-report-neville-have-i-ever/ 

http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/subtext/2017/10/26/neville-mind/

http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/subtext/2017/11/09/sports_news/

http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/subtext/2017/11/23/the-only-way-is-ua92/

http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/subtext/2017/12/07/never-mind-the-quality-feel-the-leadership/

http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/subtext/2018/01/18/ua92-updates/

http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/subtext/2018/02/01/ua92-in-the-toons/

http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/subtext/2018/02/15/spawt/

http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/subtext/2018/03/01/spawt-2/

http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/subtext/2018/03/15/spawt-3/

http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/subtext/2018/04/26/spawt-4/

http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/subtext/2018/05/10/ua92-updates-2/

http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/subtext/2018/05/24/garys-shorts/

http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/subtext/2018/06/07/special-report-whos-calling/

http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/subtext/2018/06/21/spawt-5/

SPAWT

GARY ON AT YOUR CONVENIENCE

In subtext 179, we reported on the somewhat embarrassing lack of solid information on simple things like UA92’s disability provision, placements, and whether or not they’ll be taking international students. Thankfully, a public consultation with Stretford community stakeholders was held last Monday (18th June), and there were high hopes that the community liaison representative dispatched by the council to answer to concerned residents would be able to bring some much needed clarity.

UA92 is a done deal that was signed off by Trafford’s Conservative administration before the Tories were replaced by Labour and the Liberal Democrats. While the conversion of the Turn Moss green space into a training facility for UA92 students was immediately torpedoed, it remains to be seen how readily the new administration will nod through Gary’s plans. The only accepted planning application thus far is to convert the old Kellogg’s building into educational and office space, and two more ‘masterplans’ – one for Stretford town centre and one for the Trafford ‘civic quarter’ – are to be put forward for consultation in the coming months. Furthermore, plans to hand Stretford’s leisure centre over to Gary have been mooted.

So, we know what isn’t happening, and what is definitely probably going to hopefully happen. At present, there is no information on what sites, apart from the old Kellogg’s building, are in place. Stretford residents were sympathetic to the human shield that the council had dispatched to the meeting, who was clearly poorly briefed, working on little information, and was not joined and supported by any figures with direct involvement in the planning and implementation of UA92. To surmise – UA92 has teaching and office space confirmed, partnerships with Microsoft and Lancashire Cricket Club and… that’s it. We wonder if things are going to be any clearer come the UA92 open day in July. subtext understands that two Lancaster student staff are being deployed as ambassadors to answer questions. Have they been warned, in the two non-compulsory training sessions, that many of the attendees are likely to be concerned Stretford residents masquerading as students and parents with a wad of questions that thus far haven’t been adequately answered either by council liaison officers or full time staff at the university?

The fact that, as reported in subtext 171, no-one has been willing to release the market research that lead everyone to decide that UA92 was a cracking idea is important to remember. If no-one wants to come to the party, there is the chance that UA92 might end up as a white elephant. And yet, they have so little to offer right now, be it provision, accommodation, or any of the superb facilities that are promised in the hype videos, that it’s hard to see why anyone WOULD come to UA92.

Only four months until applications open!

***

IMPRESSIONABLE MINDS

The promotional video of what UA92’s ‘campus’ is going to look like (or to use the exact quote, ‘might’ look like) consists of shots of Manchester Piccadilly Station, the Manchester skyline and Old Trafford football ground, overlaid by an intense dubstep beat and meaningless slogans to make up for a lack of content. Oh, the camera also soars through a CGI rendition of an extremely red, cavernous building that looks like a cross between a 60s themed American diner and a missile launch facility. For those still wondering what UA92 is even going to offer, it’s better than nothing, and the start of the video reminds us to ‘speak to a member of the UA92 team for the latest information.’ Ahem. https://youtu.be/vhULu8sD1Is

We are also told that ‘designs continue to be developed and further details will be available in 2019.’

Only four months until applications open!

***

PLACES FOR PEOPLE

At a recent meeting of the Stretford & Urmston Constituency Labour Party, it was noted that the Labour administration has asked that the office space being sold off as accommodation for potential UA92 students be made viable as 1 or 2 bedroom flats for general use in case the Students Don’t Come. This could prove problematic: at the moment, building student accommodation is hugely attractive to developers because student houses don’t have to meet the same regulations as normal housing. Less red tape and fewer regulations, coupled with a potentially huge market, means more money in the pockets of the developers. This presents some interesting questions – will developers take the risk and refurbish the old office blocks to a minimum standard, confident that the Students Will Come? And if they don’t, will they even be able to convert the empty student housing into normal housing that satisfies the additional regulations, or will logistics, money, and disinclination leave more disused space in Manchester?

Only four months until [we get it – eds.]

***

SETTING THE BAR

As we’ve established, Gary is having difficulty finding buildings to house the millions of students and partners falling over themselves to work with him.

By a sheer stroke of luck, his ‘Polynesian cocktail bar,’ ‘Mahiki’, is to close after less than a year of trade. The Manchester branch of the London venue (a famous celebrity haunt which has even attracted royals), which charges a tenner for entry, £12 a cocktail, hosts parties for celebrities and whose opening night was attended by David Beckham, was promised by Gary to be ‘the opposite of pretentious.’ It was also the opposite of ‘good’, and attracted scathing reviews variously describing the venue as ‘tragic’, the staff as ‘rude’, and the experience the ‘worst night out in Manchester ever.’ Since Gary has already signed a 20-year lease on the building, there is no reason not to see if he can’t squeeze a couple of 3G pitches in there.

LETTERS

Dear subtext,

I am an enormous fan of subtext and have been over a number of years. I have been especially impressed by reports on UA92 and much more. This meant I was surprised to see the report on Bailrigg garden village which seemed to lack your usual depth, questions and challenges. Bailrigg garden village has been in the public domain since January 2017 and the ‘issues and options’ drop ins followed Local Plan drop ins in February 2017 and consultations in October 2017. In other words it has been around for rather a long time.

Am puzzled by the housing numbers that you quote since there is a bid in to the Housing Infrastructure Fund – something in the region of £150m on the basis of there being 3,500 houses. This is to justify some funding for the reconfigured motorway junction, the crossing of the mainline west coast railway to access the site, to develop the bus system etc. Maybe a first question to ask is what are the infrastructure costs associated with this particular site? Given recent history of expenditure overruns on say the Bay Gateway the track record is not encouraging.

This week’s Lancaster Guardian (paper edition) includes a two page special report entitled: ‘There’s a sense that Galgate doesn’t count: seven months on from the major flooding that hit Galgate, residents are becoming increasingly concerned about new building developments that could leave them at even more risk than ever before’:

https://www.lancasterguardian.co.uk/news/galgate-residents-reveal-frustration-desperation-and-depression-after-2017-floods-1-9208157

You seem to be dismissing the community impact of Bailrigg garden village as something that only affects Burrow Heights and the tone is ‘well so what?’ Galgate, Bailrigg village, Burrow Heights and Scotforth are Bailrigg garden village’s neighbours. The November floods affected all those areas and additional building simply adds to concerns. Did you attend the recent open meetings around the Health Innovation Campus? Those meetings highlighted how the local communities felt about drainage from University development flowing into the Ou Beck and the Burrow Beck – residents were anxious and angry. Did you read about the angry flood meetings in December following last year’s floods? Residents were not reassured by Lancaster City Council that Bailrigg garden village would solve all that, far from it.

Another question to ask is what relationship, if any, does the university have to Bailrigg garden village? It isn’t at all clear and with a venture that is causing so much local concern it would be interesting to know. Where will people work who live in Bailrigg garden village? I have long been confused by seeming conflicting employment projections from the Health Innovation Campus.

2,000 jobs are quoted in the publicity – how has that figure been arrived at?

There is also massive worry about air quality in South Lancaster, highlighted in research from LEC. You commented on the very vague ‘plans’ for rapid bus transport and the belief that the reconfigured motorway junction would solve air quality for Galgate. But would it? What will happen to Scotforth and the Pointer roundabout, already hardly quiet, if spiralling costs or planning issues and personal choice mean people still use their cars to take their kids to school, to go to the supermarket, etc.?

I am a retired member of the University and I am a Galgate resident so you could say I am an interested party. You normally provide an excellent set of insights and hope this letter might be helpful.

Best wishes,

Mary Rose

***

Dear subtext,

Thought this might be of interest. A group of squatters recently occupied one of Gary Neville’s properties in Manchester in part to protest against the lack of affordable housing in the city and Neville’s role in gentrification. Their collective statement (cited in the below piece) directly takes aim at the UA92 plan and its relationship to the wider marketisation of HE.

https://freedomnews.org.uk/gary-neville-luxury-development-occupied-by-persons-unknown/

Best wishes,

Toby Atkinson

SPECIAL REPORT: WHO’S CALLING?

It’s hard to keep up with how Gary Neville is getting on with his university, UA92, what with the lack of information or active verbs on its website. We usually rely on the national press, local election results, and Twitter meltdowns (subtext 177) to keep abreast of what he’s up to. Since his plan to colonise the Turn Moss open green space and turn it into a bunch of football pitches was torpedoed, Gary has retreated, presumably to regroup and thrash out the finer details of running a university. Details like ‘where will the students live?’, ‘who is going to be in charge of the university?’, and ‘where is our university going to be?’ subtext decided to seek answers straight from the horse’s mouth, and called UA92’s general enquiries number.
 
subtext’s sleuth made three phone calls under three different guises to get some fundamental questions answered. Before we start, subtext wishes to make clear that the staff at the other end of the line were at all times helpful, friendly, professional, and working very, very hard with very little material. Here’s what we learned.

***

DISABILITIES

Our first ‘caller’ wanted to know about provisions for disabled students. Basic things, like disability support services, SpLD assessments, provision for targeted learning support, that any university worth its salt is going to have. At present, nothing whatsoever is in place to deal with any of these issues. UA92 does ‘aim to be’ an inclusive university that does not discriminate against students based on their abilities (although its obsession with physical fitness using lean, athletic looking types in its marketing might be somewhat alienating to those of us who can’t ‘Feel The Burn’ quite as easily as others), and is ‘sure’ that all of this will be in place by the time applications open. This suggests that the senior management team hasn’t even begun to think about it, and while they do ostensibly have over a year to put it in place before students arrive, UA92’s call handlers surely don’t want to have to be speaking in terms of ‘plans’ and ‘aims’ two months before applications open. Such a vague set of aims and objectives in the place of a robust strategy is also not going to go down well with Trafford’s new local administration, who are seeking to review all of Gary’s plans before giving him the nod to lay the first brick.
 
***
 
PLACEHOLDER
 
Our next caller, seeking to study journalism, wanted to know what sorts of placements Gary had to offer him.

The first issue, not to put too fine a point on it, is that UA92 does not have even close to enough exciting placements to offer to prospective students. At present, they are only able to confidently state that Microsoft and Lancashire Cricket Club (both of whom are partners) will be offering placements. Is somebody with an interest in studying journalism going to be enticed by the opportunity to cut their teeth at Lancashire Cricket Club? No, and our ‘caller’ made that clear. At present, UA92 has no relationship to boast of with any of the innumerable media organisations operating within Manchester, and given that other universities in the area already have direct lines and fruitful relationships with the big swingers in media city, it’s not going to be logistically easy to get busy media organisations like the BBC to take a plethora of students on placements, let alone to ask them to help design the curriculum …

… Yes, UA92’s partners are expected to have a hand in ‘designing the curriculum’, although how anybody can be helping to develop the curriculum either at present or in the future, given that our curriculum was supposedly submitted for approval earlier this year, is anybody’s guess. subtext understands that QAA accepts curricula on a rolling basis, but it would be really helpful if the curriculum was set in stone before September, when UA92 is meant to start accepting applications.

Another logistically challenging (read: ill thought out) promise is that all students will undertake a paid placement. Unlike paid placements at Lancaster, which are taken up during sandwich years, UA92 placements will be woven into the course. It’s not quite up there with a paid year in industry, but it’s not uncommon for a work placement to form part of a module. What is uncommon is for vocational placements woven into a course to be paid. This adds an extra layer of complexity to Gary’s already vexing workload – he not only has to convince a hell of a lot of people to take on his students as part of a course and provide an experience in line with a curriculum and learning outcomes, he’s going to have to convince them to pay students for the privilege.

Each call handler we spoke to was keen to stress that Microsoft and Lancashire Cricket Club are ‘Not The Only’ organisations they have on board, and they are planning to ‘drip through’ numerous big names over the coming months. That sounds like code for ‘they are the only people we have on board right now.’ subtext understands the value of a slow burn marketing campaign, but if a university is three months away from accepting actual UCAS applications from actual people who want to know if they are worth being their top choice, everything should be in the window. Students take their choices very seriously, and while Gary can get away with buzzwords and cliches while he’s hyping without consequence, he’s going to have to have something far more substantial to offer when potential students, income, and business partners are riding on his verbiage.

***

INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLIES

In subtext 177, we reported that the Home Office rejected Gary’s application to be able to sponsor of Tier 4 visa students. In subtext 178, we reported that our ‘cunning plan’ was simply to sponsor Tier 4 visa applicants ourselves. The people manning the phones at UA92, meanwhile, have come up with a compromise – apparently, Tier 4 applicants will be ‘co-sponsored’ by both UA92 and Lancaster University. We’re not entirely sure if this is allowed. But anyway. What would our being the sponsor of Tier 4 visa applicants at UA92 mean? Potentially, UA92 would have to become a satellite campus. Does this mean that, by extension, we would also have to bear their NSS and TEF scores which, in any new institution, are likely not to be perfect? The conflict between UA92’s explicitly profit-oriented approach and Lancaster’s Royal Charter constituted status as a public body could also cause us some interesting constitutional and legal crises.

Ultimately, though, the greatest risk is borne by the Trafford taxpayers. UA92 is, as Gary’s original business plan stressed, utterly financially reliant on a strong international student intake. Existing universities all but acknowledge that their wheels would fall off without their investment. If Gary doesn’t deliver on his promises to bring foreign lucre to the local economy, UA92 runs the risk of becoming the academic equivalent of the Mr. Blobby amusement parks of the late 1990s.

We will be extremely surprised if UA92 looks anything like a serious university come September 2018 when it opens for applications, and the responsibility lies with senior managers, who should know better than to coast on slogans and clichés rather than solid strategies.
 
***

AND ANOTHER THING

If readers think phoning UA92 is going to leave them none-the-wiser, they should see the website…

In order to understand what makes UA92, which is promoted more like a Jordan Peterson talk than a university, such a ‘game changer’, it might be worth visiting the ‘our philosophy’ section of the website. Since the page is so difficult to find, however, subtext is happy to reproduce its contents:

‘No page has been found.’

SPORT, SPORT, MASCULINE SPORT

Another exciting new opportunity on the Lancaster University jobs site – Lecturer in Sports Science (Biomechanics) with the exciting prospect of a ‘Human Performance Laboratory which will have teaching, research and commercial functions. The Human Performance Laboratory will initially be housed at a separate site which is presently being developed.’ Errm, would this site have any connection with UA92’s Human Performance Lab (they’re informal, like, so it’s lost the ‘oratory’ in their literature)? Hopefully ‘being developed’ will shift from the present continuous to the past tense faster than e.g. the Spine redevelopment, as the first cohort are due to start in September. The curious will note that senior figures in sports science at Lancaster have failed to update their websites to include this connection.

SUBTEXT GOES STRATOSPHERIC

During their routine enquiries, the subtext drones perused the university’s Wikipedia page. To our delight, they found that our humble little publication is not only listed in the citations, but also mentioned and quoted in the ‘Joint Programmes’ section! No guesses as to which joint programme we are mentioned in conjunction with…

GARY’S SHORTS

MORE TIER 4 TEARS

In subtext 177, we reported that the Home Office has rejected UA92’s application to become a Tier 4 Visa sponsor for international students. Now, word reaches us that Lancaster has come up with a cunning plan. It’s really quite simple. We will use our own Tier 4 sponsorship licence to recruit international students to study at UA92. After all, it is argued, don’t we do the same for some Study Group International students, who belong to a separate organisation? It is certainly the case that many Study International students come here under Lancaster’s Tier 4 licence, though some are also eligible under Study Group International’s own licence. They follow foundation or pre-sessional programmes to prepare for  Lancaster degrees, both at undergraduate and postgraduate level. They live on the same campus as other students, are covered by the same rules, and have access to the same library, IT facilities, sporting, and social facilities. All the structures to support their learning and welfare are in place in order to meet Home Office requirements. By contrast, UA92 is still awaiting planning permission to lay the first brick.

The Home Office is unlikely to be impressed by Lancaster’s special pleading. In its latest guidance on ‘Sites and teaching partnerships’ issued earlier this month, it is made clear that there has to be ‘a direct relationship between a sponsor and the student they are sponsoring’. Furthermore, ‘an institution which teaches Tier 4 students must take responsibility for sponsoring them’, a requirement that would rule out Lancaster – the whole point of UA92 is that it will be responsible for delivering its own degree programmes.

If Lancaster really is considering this approach to Tier 4 approval, we should be aware of what we may be risking: ‘Arrangements or partnerships that circumvent the Immigration Rules or this guidance will be considered to be an abuse of the Tier 4 sponsorship system, and compliance action may be taken against the Tier 4 sponsor and/or its partner in such circumstances’. In other words – don’t take the piss. It’s not as if the Home Office is renowned for its flexibility or sensitivity to individual circumstances when it comes to migration matters (see above).

***

LET IT GO, GARY

In subtext 177 we reported on Gary’s rather graceless responses to the probable demise of his development plans for the Turn Moss green area as a result of the Conservative loss of Trafford Council. He said then that he would put this behind him and seek new areas where his valiant efforts would be more appreciated. But, rather like that other thin-skinned self-obsessive across the Atlantic, it seems that he just can’t leave it alone, and continues to air his hurt feelings on Twitter and in the local and national media.

He told the BBC that he ‘was “insulted” by the suggestion that the club wanted to take anything out of the community’, and that the local opposition was ‘selfish’ and ‘politically motivated’. The Mirror reported him as saying to local campaigners: ‘Once this campaign ends you will fade into your old world again’. He gave a long self-justifying interview to local listings guide Manchester Confidential, whose write-up was described by one Trafford resident as being ‘so far up GN’s arse it should come with a free Davy lamp’. The same article was re-tweeted approvingly by Sean Anstee, the ousted Conservative leader of Trafford Council, who accused the local resistance of creating ‘a highly politicised angry environment to the detriment of today’s young people’. Clearly, that’s the last thing that’s needed in Manchester – politics in election campaigns!

In the meantime, Trafford Labour has done a deal with the Lib Dems and has now formed an administration. The Turn Moss plans are now dead in the water, and the main UA92 campus plans will be called back in for review. UA92’s future is not bright.

***

WHERE’S THE LEADER?

Folk in Lancaster and Manchester are asking what’s happened with the appointment of the ‘Principal/Chief Executive Officer’ for UA92. As we reported in subtext 175, the post was advertised with much fanfare by fancy recruitment agency Anderson Quigley, and interviews were scheduled for 27 April. That was four weeks ago and since then, silence. Did the interviews even take place? If they did, was anyone appointed? If so, have they changed their mind? Given the growing uncertainty of UA92 ever getting off the ground, it wouldn’t surprise us if someone currently in a secure position would be having second thoughts about heading up such a risky enterprise. In the meantime, it looks like Professor Simon Guy will just have to soldier on as Acting Principal/Chief Executive Officer. But for how long? He is due to return as FASS Faculty Dean in August, and it is not clear how much longer he will be willing to put his academic career on hold just to help Gary.

***

SCOUSE SABBATICAL

This Saturday, all eyes will be on the final of the European Champions League, as Liverpool seeks to wrest the trophy from Real Madrid. If things go Liverpool’s way, then Gary Neville is in line for a well-deserved break from his current UA92 tribulations. Last week, he declared: ‘If Liverpool win the European Cup and Chelsea beat United in the FA Cup Final, I might go travelling for a year – somewhere where there’s no wifi or mobile phone signal’.

Thanks to a Chelsea penalty goal at Wembley, it now falls to Liverpool to make Gary’s dream come true. But you can never underestimate Real Madrid, and you can bet your bottom dollar that Ronaldo’s boys will be doing their utmost to ensure that the world of academia is not deprived of Gary’s Vision. Should be a cracking game.

LU TEXT LOST AND FOUND

The Complete University Guide 2019 is out. If you click on ‘Lancaster University,’ you’ll see a big list of reasons to enrol. One such offering? ‘The Graduate Ball.’ D’oh! https://www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/lancaster/

The fact that we are the first UK University to face legal action over loss of teaching provision during strike action has caught the attention of the student media at our comparator institutions: https://www.oxfordstudent.com/2018/05/15/student-takes-legal-action-against-lancaster-uni-over-strikes/, https://mancunion.com/2018/05/22/uk-university-faces-legal-challenge-over-strike-action/ (see subtext 177 for our report on the case.)

Gary Neville, who is literally a business partner of the University of Lancaster, which is soon to set up a literal university with him, continues to prove his worth. https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/gary-neville-hits-back-campaigners-12532925  https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-44107743

Private Eye’s architectural columnist has thrown their penneth worth in on student housing developments in university cities, singling out Lancaster as the ‘locus classicus of student housing blight […] pock-marked by mini-hi-rise incongruities.’ The piece, which concludes by calling on university chancellors to wake up ‘to the architectural vandalism they are allowing’, can be found in the latest edition of the mag.

subtext 177 – ‘be realistic and demand the impossible’

Fortnightly during term time.

Letters, contributions, & comments: subtext-editors@lancaster.ac.uk

Back issues & subscription details: http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/subtext/about/

In this issue: editorial, sports (x3), local government (x2), tech, senate, horticulture, justice (x2), buildings, grads, buses, activism, loans, noise, shart attack, widden, letters.

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EDITORIAL

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.

UA92 UPDATES

TRAFFORD ELECTION TREAT

As predicted in subtext 176, opposition to Gary Neville’s plans to colonise Turn Moss, the Stretford open green area, proved to be crucial in overturning the Conservative majority on Trafford Council, with Labour gaining four seats and the Greens (unexpectedly) gaining two seats. One of Labour’s first announcements after the result was that they would honour their pledge to withdraw Gary’s application to build training pitches for Salford City FC on  Turn Moss. This means that there will be no shared sports facilities for UA92 students to use, despite the fact that they are promised in the prospectus. A bit tricky, that, for a sports university.

Gary took the news in sportsmanlike fashion by going on Twitter and berating concerned residents in a series of angry tweets, declaring that ‘we had been called liars, insulted and harassed on this project’, and that ‘we will be welcome everywhere else we offer the same solution’. In response to an activist who had queried the rigour of the local public opinion surveys (commissioned by one of Gary’s own companies), he tweeted ‘xxx is a Lecturer, and likes to Lecture people!’. Lancaster colleagues currently toiling to make sense of UA92’s ‘Target Talent Curriculum’ take note – Gary doesn’t like it when academics contradict him.

Gary will no doubt find another area for his football pitches – some place where people will be more appreciative of his generosity, unlike those ingrates in Turn Moss. However, what is potentially much more serious for the UA92 project is another Labour pledge concerning the main campus site in central Stretford. Although Labour supports the principle of establishing a university, they will want to ensure that it will be of benefit to all local young people, and accordingly will institute ‘a review of all existing proposals in full, completed alongside extensive consultation with local residents’. At best this will ensure yet further delay, making it highly unlikely that UA92 will be able to open its doors to students in 2019. At worst, it could result in the scuppering of the whole plan, as the academic viability of UA92 will come under much closer scrutiny than it did when the Conservatives ruled Trafford.

And for Gary, the ultimate question might be how much longer his billionaire financial backer Peter Lim will be prepared to bankroll what is increasingly looking like a failed – and expensive – enterprise.

***

TIERS 4 FEARS

As if that wasn’t bad enough, word has reached subtext of what could be another major setback for UA92. It would appear that its application for a licence as an educational sponsor for Tier 4 visa applicants has been rejected by the Home Office. Currently there are over 1200 educational institutions who hold such a licence, including all the recognised universities. This allows them to sponsor international students to come to the UK under Tier 4 of the Points Based System, and to charge them extortionate fees for the privilege.

Why UA92 may have been turned down (if this is the case) is unclear. Most of the criteria for acceptance relate to the probity and good record of the institutions and individuals applying for a licence. We would have thought the outstanding reputation of Lancaster University in this regard would have pretty much guaranteed a successful application, but we can’t vouch for the *ahem* other partners in the bid. What is most likely is that UA92 has fallen foul of the requirement that ‘the provider has systems, policies and processes in place that enable it to meet its sponsor duties (under the Immigration Rules and/or the sponsor guidance)’. This will probably come as no surprise to Lancaster staff who have been seconded to try to turn Gary’s ‘vision’ into a reality.

There is no appeal against Tier 4 decisions, but institutions can reapply after six months, so long as they can demonstrate that they have put right the deficiencies that caused their application to be turned down. Should a 2nd application be rejected by the Home Office, the opening of UA92 in September 2019 could still go ahead, but without any international students. As it was envisaged that a third of students would come from overseas, lured to Manchester by the footballing fame of Gary and Co., this knocks a rather big hole in the UA92 business plan.

The subtext collective continues to investigate this story, and aims to report on the reasons for our rejection in subtext 178.

***

UA LAW

In subtext 176 we reported that a Stretford resident recently obtained a lot of useful information from the UA92 stand at a recruitment fair. One such nugget concerned the relationship between ‘University Academy 92’ (Gary’s lot) and ‘Undergraduate Academy 92’, part the rival UCFB operating out of the Etihad Stadium complex down the road. As subtext 174 revealed, UCFB is owned by Brendan Flood of Burnley FC, who set up a football university before Gary thought up UA92. To complicate matters further, the title ‘UA92’ is owned by the same Brendan Flood, who registered it with Companies House shortly after Gary went public with his plans.

Our Stretford sleuth was told that legal action was being taken against Brendan Flood over his use of the UA92 title in UCFB advertising. What makes this particularly intriguing is the fact that Mr. Flood is also a business partner of Gary’s and sits on the board of his Jackson’s Row development company, currently seeking to build Manchester’s tallest ever high-rise block. It should make for a very interesting courtroom confrontation, if it ever gets that far. And let us not forget that Lancaster University would also be a party to this legal action and would be expected to pay its whack towards legal fees. Just as well that university management had the foresight to shave 2% off departmental budgets last year.

SPAWT!

SALFORD QUEASE

When asked if Gary Neville had ‘shopped around’ other universities before settling on Lancaster as his business partner, the Vice-Chancellor didn’t ‘believe’ this to be the case. It turns out that this actually was the case, and that Gary had had extensive talks with Salford University about a partnership. Indeed, it was a surprise to many observers that Salford University was not the partner of choice. As it turns out, Salford had enjoyed a fruitful relationship with the Class of 92 stretching over several years, culminating in a formal partnership agreement in 2014. Gary stated at the time that the partnership was ‘a central part of our vision and we’re really lucky to be able to make the most of the enthusiasm and skills of some fantastic students and the incredible facilities at the University.’ Professor Amanda Broderick, the Pro Vice-Chancellor and Salford Business School Dean who had brokered the partnership, said that the ‘internship, placement and research opportunities for our students through our exclusive partnership with the Class of 92 are incredible.’

The deal was sealed with the award of an Honorary Doctorate to Gary ‘for his work promoting the importance of sustainability in the sports and property development industries’. Yes, the same Gary Neville whose property development company plans to disfigure the Manchester skyline with the tallest high-rise ever built in the city, and whose Salford City FC development is set on colonising the Turn Moss open green space (see subtext 175), was given an academic award for environmental sustainability.

Over the next 18 months the partnership blossomed. Salford students got to work and develop their skills with a group of high-profile football celebrities, while the Class of 92 got… quite a lot. Nearly 70 pieces of art, ‘hand-picked by Manchester United legend Gary Neville’, were produced by students to adorn the bedrooms and public areas of the newly-opened Hotel Football. Design students helped develop the Class of 92 brand, Fashion students designed their high-end sportswear, and Film students were responsible for filming key scenes for the BBC documentary about Salford City FC, ‘Class of 92: Out of Their League’. It is not known if the students were paid for their efforts. The partnership’s future looked so rosy that Salford began recruiting extra staff to support it, creating two new professorships in Sports Business and Sports Enterprise. Prior to this, Salford University was notorious for wholesale staff-cutting in order to reduce costs. The most recent instance had been just months earlier, when modern language degrees were axed and teaching staff made redundant.

This happy period culminated in a proposal by Gary to create ‘Academy 92’. This envisaged a major local regeneration project based on building a new stadium for Salford City FC and would involve Salford City Council, Salford NHS Trust and Salford University as major stakeholders. Based in teaching facilities at the new stadium, university staff would deliver sports science, sports rehabilitation and physiotherapy education as components of existing Salford degree programmes. The partnership looked all set to go on to even greater things.

And then it all went pear-shaped.

In December 2015, Gary was appointed manager of Valencia FC, owned by his friend and financial backer Peter Lim, and where brother Phil already had a coaching role. Then Professor Amanda Broderick left Salford to take up a new post as CEO of Newcastle University’s London campus. With these two driving forces off the scene, the project lost momentum. One might have thought that another member of the Class of 92 would have taken up the baton. Alas, it appears that nothing much happens with their various enterprises unless Gary is directly involved.

Neville returned the following March after his brief and inglorious reign at Valencia to announce that the Class of 92 would be withdrawing from its Memorandum of Understanding with Salford to develop the new stadium complex. To use a technical footballing term, this was a bit of a sickener for Salford. In vain did they try to win back Gary’s favour but the reality was that his thinking about ‘Academy 92’ had moved on and, as we understand from Salford insiders, he did not believe that Salford as an institution had the necessary academic strength and reputation to further his ambitions. By now he was no longer thinking of his Academy as a mere adjunct to Salford City FC but as being a university in its own right, hence his approach to Lancaster. He may have been guided in his thinking by Professor Amanda Broderick, who continued her association with him long after she left Salford. In January 2016 she became a director of the newly-formed Education 92 Ltd, (75% owned by Gary Neville) which was to become the holding company for UA92. She left in December 2016 and received a fulsome joint tribute acknowledging her key role in the thinking behind UA92 from Gary and our very own Mark E Smith:

‘We would like to thank Amanda for her considerable work in progressing this project to the point of launch. She has played a leading role in the development of the core education innovation which is the foundation upon which UA92 is being built.’

subtext is confident that we have not heard the last of Professor Broderick’s contributions to UA92 and look forward to her again taking an active part in its development. As to her old employer, all they can do is sigh and reflect on what might have been. As they say, a sickener… or maybe a bullet dodged?

***

TWO DAYS SHALT THOU LABOUR

New light has recently been shed on the UA92 curriculum, thanks to some nifty undercover work at a recent UCAS recruitment fair by an activist from the Save Turn Moss campaign in Stretford. According to a UA92 representative, all teaching is to be packed into the first two and a half days of the week, with Wednesday afternoons given over to sport, and the remaining two days for work placements and for part-time students to get on with their day jobs. Yes, it will be nothing but fun! fun! fun! if you are lucky enough to become a UA92 student and join Gary’z matez.

Unfortunately, there was no information forthcoming on how the 5 compulsory ‘Target Talent Curriculum’ modules would be delivered under this split-week format. These modules make up 40% of the curriculum so a little clarity for prospective students would have been helpful. The UA92 Prospectus doesn’t assist much either. It states that students ‘can expect traditional workshops and lectures, alongside hands-on sessions, internships, placements and volunteering’ but with no information as to how these are to be weighted. The only information given on assessment for the Target Talent Curriculum is that it will be portfolio-based and ‘assessed on your individual development journey’. Imagine trying to get that one past a QAA audit in the old days.

***

SEND THEM TO COVENTRY

Our Stretford sleuth, who works in a university, raises an interesting point regarding the UA92 split week. If teaching is confined to half a week, and UA92 is to be a teaching-only institution, this implies fractional contracts for teaching staff. No doubt this is an issue that will be of concern to UCU Regional Officer Martyn Moss, currently engaged in discussions with UA92 about trade union recognition. It may be a surprise to readers that this is not already covered by UCU’s current agreement with Lancaster but as UA92 is a separate entity (although 40% owned by Lancaster) there is no obligation to recognise any union. This is the line that has been taken by Coventry University and its wholly-owned subsidiary, CU Coventry. The latter offers ‘no-frills’ degrees at reduced fee levels and pays its staff below the nationally-agreed pay scales and on inferior conditions of service. Its management has refused to recognise UCU or any other union and instead has set up a ‘Staff Consultative Group’ and signed a union recognition agreement with it (see https://www.ucu.org.uk/CovUniShame) An indication of things to come down Stretford way?

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TURNROUND FOR TURN MOSS

Kate Green, Labour MP for Stretford and Urmston, has at last come off the fence and given her support to those objecting to Gary Neville’s plans to take over large tracts of green space for his Salford City FC expansion plans. Stretford residents (and some local Labour councillors) have been frustrated by her previous support for the Trafford Masterplan, which has the development surrounding UA92 as its centrepiece. Indeed, after her meeting earlier this year with Lancaster VC Mark E Smith, she declared herself to be ‘reassured’ by what he had said about the quality of the enterprise (see subtext 171).

So why the change of heart? Could it be that, after many years of Tory control, Trafford could be taken by Labour in the forthcoming local elections? Kate Green certainly thinks so, as reported in a recent article in The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/apr/15/labour-sets-its-sights-on-trafford-the-only-tory-borough-in-greater-manchester

It seems that the Save Turn Moss campaign has had a significant impact in the area, including in the more well-heeled, traditionally Tory-voting parts. The current Tory-run Council has done itself no favours with its cack-handed and insensitive responses to the genuine objections of residents concerned about their dwindling stock of public green space. The indignation sparked by the opposition to the money-making plans of a gang of millionaire footballers may just tip the balance come election time on 3 May. The Class of 92 have often been quoted as ‘wanting to give something back’ to the area. Wouldn’t it be ironic if what they gave back to Trafford was its first Labour administration in fourteen years?

LU TEXT LOST AND FOUND

LU Text isn’t perfect, and in trying to provide a weekly roundup of Lancaster’s mentions in the press, it is inevitably going to miss the odd story here and there. Hence, we produce LU Text Lost and Found with only the most collegial intentions at heart.

First up, the Sale & Altrincham Messenger reports that the ex-footballer and devoted philanthropist Gary Neville, who readers may know as our business partner in a venture to set up a new university in Manchester, has landed himself in trouble with the Advertising Standards Agency. It turns out that the prospectus for UA92 is wooing potential learners with multiple all weather 3G pitches, even though they have only sought planning permission for one, and the permission hasn’t even been granted yet. Come on Gary, get your head in the game! http://www.messengernewspapers.co.uk/news/16136609.UA92_plan_breaches_advertising_regulations/

Those who enjoyed our analysis of the gender pay gap at Lancaster (the third largest in the UK) might also enjoy the Times Higher’s report on it. https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/gender-pay-gap-how-much-less-are-women-paid-your-university#survey-answer

LU TEXT LOST AND FOUND

Once again, subtext brings you the stories you won’t read in the leftist MSM (well, in LU Text, anyway). There is a double page spread in the latest edition of the Big Issue about the Gary Neville University, focussing on the Stretford residents’ opposition to the project. We could upload some photos of the relevant pages, but we’d rather our readers purchased a copy from their local vendor.

Our soon to be illustrious leader Gary Neville has been profiled by the BBC, in a long article about his business successes. According to Auntie, we are in safe hands. You can read it at www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-43229602

The piece also links to some related articles, such as ‘Council pitches plan backed by Neville is opposed’, ‘Neville and Giggs’ £200m Manchester plan opposed again’, and ‘Ex-Manchester United stars’ university plan revised.’

SPAWT!

TRAINING GROUND MOVES

News from Manchester of continuing local opposition to the onward march of Gary Neville’s Barmy Army (subtexts passim ad nauseam). The campaign this time is to protect Turn Moss, a stretch of open green space on the outskirts of Trafford. The Council is backing Gary’s plan to turn this public amenity into the headquarters and training ground for Salford City FC, owned by Gary and his billionaire financial backer Peter Lim.

According to local opposition group Save Turn Moss, this will involve ‘building a new floodlit 3G football pitch with 4.5 meter enclosed fence, building sports changing facilities; the development of a new football training facility including 3 enclosed (fenced off) training pitches for SCFC, goalkeeper training pitch, running mounds, changing/office facility, gym; removing healthy mature trees, drainage, extension of car parking area, highways alterations, erecting bollards at the entrance and other works’. This would then be leased back to Salford City FC, but only after the development costs had been paid for by Trafford council tax payers. Although the plan is for the new facilities to be open for public use, there is considerable scepticism about how much access local residents will be allowed. It has emerged that the new Salford City FC centre will also be the main sports facility for UA92, whose students will have first dibs on use. (Readers may well wonder how all this squares with the noble conservation sentiments expressed by ‘Green Lancaster’ but hey, it’s not on our doorstep).

None of these details were made clear during Trafford Council’s ‘consultation period’, and residents are understandably up in arms about it, catching the attention of local media, including Granada Reports. Nearly 900 objections have been lodged with Trafford Council and it is anticipated that this will reach 1000 by the deadline of 28th March. Organisers hope that the local opposition will cause a re-think by Trafford Council, or at least encourage some discussion about how, as one activist put it, ‘we can get something for people who aren’t Gary Neville or UA92’.

Further information on the plans, the local opposition and the green space under threat can be found at https://saveturnmoss.tumblr.com/

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HAIL TO THE FOUNDER

Recruitment firm Anderson Quigley’s search for the ‘Principal and Chief Executive’ for UA92 continues. As revealed in subtext 174, the ideal candidate doesn’t need to have any experience of HE, but being able to provide ‘a disruptive approach to teaching and learning’ is a must. But, needless to say, what will most concern candidates will be the amount of dosh on offer. Perhaps mindful of the public outcry over bloated VC wage packets, Anderson Quigley are somewhat coy about specifying a salary range, which will be agreed with the successful candidate. Other goodies will include ‘a generous holiday allowance, a direct contribution pension scheme, a range of positive lifestyle benefits and perhaps a share scheme’. The recent revelations about VC expenses perks should provide some insight into what ‘positive lifestyle benefits’ will encompass. And a ‘share scheme’ as well!

So far there has been little information on the selection process, apart from the fact that the final decision will be taken by a nine-member panel. Readers will no doubt be intrigued as to how the selection panel will identify the candidate with the most ‘disruptive approach to teaching and learning’. (Candidates could do worse than take a few tips from UUK, who have shown themselves to be the leading experts in this regard). However, it is a very distinguished panel, and includes the VC, the Principal of Trafford College, the CEO of Trafford Council and other Lancaster University senior officers. And top of the list, with the simple but eloquent title of ‘Founder’, is Gary Neville, whose own career as Man Utd and England right-back exemplifies what is meant by a ‘disruptive approach’.

For readers who may be interested in getting a glimpse of those making the shortlist, interviews for the post will take place at the University on 27th April. We’ll let you know when we find out where.

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ANOTHER GLORIOUS VICTORY FOR SUBTEXT

In subtext 174, we noted that recruitment firm Anderson Quigley described UA92’s Target Talent Curriculum as being ‘underpinned by 10 principles that prepare UA92 graduates for the workplace’… before going on to list 11 principles. We can now report that, in another glorious victory for subtext, the firm has corrected the error on its website. Eleven was the correct number all along, and the text has been amended accordingly. Which is a relief – the thought of UA92 having to drop ‘survival’ or ‘life skills’ or ‘self and peer group analysis’ from its remit for the sake of clarity just doesn’t bear thinking about.

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COMPETITION

What is a ‘disruptive approach to teaching’ anyway? We were somewhat glib to suggest that candidates should take tips from UUK, and would like to offer some serious suggestions as to what it might entail.

Candidates who have a ‘disruptive approach to teaching’ may, for example: set off campus fire alarms during peak periods; enter exam halls with an airhorn and casually blast it at random intervals; deliver lectures in a sort of raspy whisper; have open book exams with magic 8-balls instead of textbooks; set group work but in every group there’s a saboteur; set presentations but every time a speaker says ‘ummm’ they get a little electric shock; have everyone come to your lecture but you aren’t actually there and when everyone is seated the doors lock and a voice on a loudspeaker says ‘I’m sorry to have lured you here under false pretenses’; in the middle of a gym session, have an elephant fly out of the score clock with a parachute to see how the students react; set problems which are insoluble due to missing data or logical flaws, then berate students who complain; start every lecture with ‘welcome to logical positivism 101, please leave now if you’re in the wrong room’ (unless you’re teaching logical positivism); respond to all student feedback with ‘I know you are, but what am I?’; arrange for major campus building works during term; set up an electronic attendance monitoring system which doesn’t work and then use up valuable lecturing time logging in students whose phones won’t connect.

We welcome contributions from readers who might have their own ideas on what constitutes a ‘disruptive approach to teaching.’ To the usual address, please.

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BAD MARKETING NEWS

Who, really, is UA92 aimed at? A read through the 2019-20 undergraduate prospectus has left subtext none the wiser.

Clearly, UA92 needs to target the local market. Trafford College is a partner institution and it’s easy to imagine UA92 developing as a collaboration à la Lancaster University and Blackpool & The Fylde College. So how will students from Lancashire, Cheshire and Greater Manchester be persuaded by UA92? Well, according to the prospectus, if you come to UA92 then you can ‘do as a real northerner and get stuck into a ‘proper pint’ at a ‘proper pub’ – there are lots of them.’ Erm. Right. Meanwhile, if you like music (from 20 years before you were born), ‘Joy Division, The Smiths and The Stone Roses have all called Trafford their home.’ Quite how this is relevant to today’s applicants is not explained.

How about recruitment from overseas? Given the Class of 92’s much-publicised South East Asian business connections (see subtext 158), careful marketing to China, Malaysia and Singapore will be critical. We wonder, then, what some of Gary & Co’s investors will make of the description of the links between the Class of 92, Lancaster University and Microsoft as the ‘UA92 Golden Triangle’. Let’s look that term up on Wikipedia, shall we? ‘The Golden Triangle is one of Asia’s two main opium-producing areas. It is an area of approximately 950,000 square kilometres that overlaps the mountains of three countries of Southeast Asia: Myanmar, Laos and Thailand.’ Oh dear.

Come to think of it, the very name ‘UA92’ could have unfortunate connotations in some markets, particularly the USA, where it might be interpreted as a very tasteless pastiche of Flight UA93. Did anyone think of this?

The subtext collective would like to make clear that we aren’t making any of this up. There’re 70 pages of this – UA92-Master-Prospectus-Digital – and we encourage readers to submit their own analysis of UA92’s marketing strategy to the usual address.

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IT’S RAINING UA92’S

There’s exciting news for those interested in UA92 Manchester, as detailed information about the project has now been published online. According to the blurb, ‘our academy provides unparalleled opportunities for aspiring professionals to study university degrees in football business, coaching and/or related industries alongside their football training programme, giving them the best chance at a successful career in the beautiful game, whether on or off the pitch.’ Students will be ‘based at our inspiring campus in Manchester’, with direct access to ‘world-class coaches’ including former MUFC assistant manager Mike Phelan, and a number of 100% scholarships available to the best players.

We can see you’re looking a bit confused …

… ah, sorry! Did you think we meant UA92? We were referring to UA92 (see subtexts 171 and 174), the venture backed by Burnley FC director Brendan Flood and his ‘football university college’ UCFB, launched in partnership with Bucks New University: https://www.ucfb.com/programmes/ua-92-manchester/

Whilst we suspect that UCFB’s appropriation of the UA92 name, backed up with several registrations at Companies House as discussed in the last subtext, amounts to little more than gentle trolling on Mr Flood’s part, subtext continues to wonder whether the titans behind Gary Neville University have factored UCFB’s ambitions into their forward planning. UCFB can showcase ready-made facilities at Etihad Stadium and Wembley. Gary and the boys can only respond with artists’ impressions and planning applications. One-nil to the Blues…