In an open meeting this afternoon, a University of Manchester (UoM) Vice-President, Professor Clive Agnew, told stunned students that the University is obligated to provide them “with a degree,” rather than a complete education.
Students were fielding questions to a panel comprised of UoM Vice-Chancellor Dame Nancy Rothwell, alongside Deputy President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Luke Georghiou, and Vice-President for Teaching, Learning and Students, Professor Clive Agnew.
(pictured from right to left above)
When asked by a student about the University’s perceived failure to deliver a satisfactory education, Professor Agnew stated: “We have taken advice on this and the contract is to deliver a degree, that is the focus.”
A further shout of “Not an education?” was ignored, as the panel hurridly attempted to shift focus.
Professor Agnew’s response is unlikely to quell the complaints of students who feel that the learning experience and associated personal development that their courses once promised is forever lost.
UoM students affected by the strike action should join the Take Action! UoM Facebook group, where a video of Professor Agnew’s statement has been posted.
Vice-Chancellor Nancy Rothwell stated seemingly dozens of times during today’s meeting that it would be virtually impossible to calculate compensation.
When challenged that the Independent Adjudicator have indicated how they would calculate compensation due to students, the Vice-Chancellor claimed this was only applicable in cases where the student has been forced to withdraw from the course.
This is in contradiction to the UCU strike briefing note issued by the Independent Adjudicator back in March. The Adjudicator has tonight been contacted seeking clarification.
Update 18/04/18: The Adjudicator has today confirmed they have no policy of restricting compensation to cases where a student has been forced to withdraw from their studies. This may have been a misunderstanding borne of the fact the Adjudicator will always opt for a practical solution rather than financial compensation, where possible. Professor Rothwell confirmed multiple times during Monday’s meeting that as much as she would like to offer one, no practical solution is possible.
With a mere 30 minutes allocated for the meeting, and countless aggrieved students packing out the large boardroom to standing room only, many students did not get the chance to have their say. Both the final permitted question, and those asked from the crowd after the meeting was closed, were left unanswered.
Vice-Chancellor Rothwell was also challenged on the University’s investment in companies such as Caterpillar that supply weaponry to the Israeli army, reportedly used in breaches of international law. Professor Rothwell again refused to answer as the question on the basis that it was asked after the meeting had closed.
A history of The University of Manchester misleading students
Responding to student complaints and demands for compensation emailed to Vice-Chancellor Nancy Rothwell in March, UoM Director of Communications Michael Greenhalgh told students en-masse that it would be “virtually impossible” to calculate compensation, be that on an individual or group basis.
However, the Independent Adjudicator awards compensation from universities (including UoM!) to thousands of students each year, and confirm in their briefing note that many of these relate to teaching that has not been delivered.
This leaves two possible conclusions.
1 – UoM’s management, when drafting their response to demands for compensation and claiming it was “virtually impossible” to calculate, were so incompetent they did not know that compensation is calculated on a regular basis.
2 – UoM’s management feigned ignorance of this process with the scandalous intent of hushing student complaints.
Final year and Masters students hardest hit
Many University of Manchester Masters students claim their degree has been “ruined” by the effects of strike action. With most Masters students only studying for one year, this would have consisted of just two 10 week semesters, followed by a dissertation.
Whilst seminars have taken place as normal either side of the strike action, the substantial amount of missed teaching has decimated the cumulative learning experience of the semester. Many students have also missed out on a potentially vital ‘Dissertation Research Design’ module, leaving them ill-equipped to complete their dissertations over the summer.