Thursday, 3 February 2011

Blog moving!

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Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Fees, cuts and rises in pay: David Eastwood shows the way

In a week that saw Fernando Torres move to Chelsea for a British record fee of £50m, it was also announced that the Vice Chancellor at Birmingham University received a stunning 11% rise to his pay, bringing it up to £392,000 "including pen­sion contributions". You may think the two are irrelevant, but they're not. They are both demonstrations of how, despite the recession and deep government cuts, those at the top continue to live on a different planet. 
I will not bother with footballers and their fees-the newspapers have dedicated much of their back pages to that nonsense. My main concern here is Mr Eastwood's pay rise at a time when schools and departments are being 'reviewed', staff are made redundant and the cuts are biting hard those at the bottom of the pile. 
According to a 2010 report, Mr Eastwood also enjoys: 
  • a university car (full of fuel) and a chauffeur
  • university accommodation including a gardener and cleaner (I suspect it's not one of the tiny rooms students pay through the nose for)
  • Credit cards and expenses
At the same time, all Birmingham University staff have received the princely pay rise of 0.4%, which for most people amounts to the price of a dodgy curry per month. 
The division here is clear. Mr Eastwood is not even performing a job. His is a vocation, a calling and a duty, a mission to make Birmingham the Barcl...sorry, Harvard of red brick universities. The services he provides the University are so invaluable that his salary and perks cannot of course come into question by anyone. On the other hand, a 0.4% rise in the pay of University staff (who also pay their own travel expenses, inflated public transport fees, fuel prices and taxes) is probably not necessary. Why oh why do we give a pay rise to people with a mortgage to pay, families to feed and clothe and the likes? 
No, the recipients of proper pay rises and perks should be the likes of Mr Eastwood. His duties and services to society and his institution are beyond doubt. He goes to meetings, gives speeches, cuts ribbons. His salary is not enough to ensure him a home, a car and fuel-the students need to pay for that. The man was on the committee which suggested that tuition fees should be tripled, stating that "[G]raduates should make a larger contribution to the cost of their higher education, which delivers higher lifetime earnings". This clearly worked really well for the man himself, as he himself STUDIED FOR FREE and look at what he takes home every Friday! Talk about bringing home the bacon, he brings home a fucking sausage factory. 
I hereby propose: 
  • all university staff should donate their 0.4% increments towards Mr Eastwood's professional expenses-his work is clearly more important than theirs
  • 10% of all top-up fees be channelled to Mr Eastwoods gardening and car pool, so that he can perform his duties even better
  • all working class pupils with aspirations should do a vocational course, in the hope that the ever-expanding Eastwood household can absorb them-know your place!
  • a significant percentage of the new super-profits should be channelled into hiring more security so that protesting students can be, ahem, collided accidentally with, more effectively
  • Mr Eastwood, like his namesake Clint, rides off into the sunset with the gold
That's all. Here's a nice reminder of how things should work:

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Nutters I have known #3: The Greek 'researcher'

Soula was very keen on her research. She was researching her own island (aren't we all) during Ottoman times, but nobody knew exactly what. You see, Soula thought that what she was doing was so important and significant , importantly significant and significantly important that somebody might steal it from her. Therefore, she never told anyone apart from her PhD supervisor what her research was about. Which was a bit extreme.

You see, unless you're researching the cure for cancer or a revolutionary PC software/hardware which will change the face of the planet, nobody cares. Especially if you're researching a small Greek island (not Cyprus btw). Anyway. Soula was so obsessed with secrecy, that when we had student conferences where we presented our work, she wrote a paper on something irrelevant in order to avoid revealing her real topic. On top of that, she confused research with collecting material. She'd go to archives and photocopy everything, accumulating piles and piles of photocopies of documents whose only value was that they could one day prove useful. They didn't. Her supervisor told her to stop it and concentrate on finishing her thesis.

When she finished her thesis, passed her viva and submitted it, she made it inaccessible to anyone for 7 years. Because although there was a date on it and it was printed and bound, someone might still try to steal the supreme knowledge included in her thesis. As a result, by the time her thesis was available to readers, nobody was interested any more. She went back home, found a job in local government and that was that. The world could not benefit from her cutting-edge work. Shame ;-)

The Nutters Series