Monday, 29 January 2007

Out of the kithcen into the fire

Cripes, have I been busy! I am a student at Glasgow University's satellite, or outreach, campus in Dumfries (Crichton Campus) and about two weeks ago we all recieved news that due to an operating deficit and lack of funding from the Scottish Funding Council, the university is considering withdrawing from the site. So since then my dissertation has been abandoned in favour of placard waving and signature collecting. I have been in and out of meetings and I even hugged one of my lecturers by mistake. You should have seen the poor man's face. Needless to say the house is even more of a tip than ever and I've been living off dried fruit and chocolate. I think I may smell.

Anyway, here is the full story: Glasgow Univeristy has a relatively new principal: Sir Muir Russell, appointed in 2003. He is the civil servant who was in charge of the Scottish Parliament building that, if anyone remembers, went over budget by £440 million squids. He eventually fell foul of the first minister when he hired 40 new policy advisors without getting permission. Hence he resigned and was offered the post at Glasgow. It seems senior civil servants can't be sacked no matter how craply incompetent they are. And someone thought putting him in a position of such power over the nation's education was a good idea! I'd have thought that someone with a passion for education and perhaps some experience of education would have been a better bet, but what do I know?

Anyway, in his inaugural speech at Glasgow Russell said he saw himself as an agent for change. Last year he made 260 redundancies and forced various departments to tighten their belts. This year he is trying to close us down. Yet he has just been awarded (and accepted) a pay rise of 15% taking his package up to £211,000 (ish). The university currently has an operating surplus of £2 million but says the Crichton campus is losing them £800k a year, so we must go.

But, according to certain sources this sum has been inflated by manipulating the figures to make it look like all the unfunded (marginal to use the funding council's term) students are in Dumfries. Does this make sense? It seems to me the 'agent for change' is trying to make a name for himself by centralising in order to increase the operating surplus. Therefore, not taking into consideration that the purpose of a university is to educate, not turn in a profit. A university is not a business, and although it can't sustain continuous losses it's not there to make capital. Also, the campus at Dumfries has only been up and running for seven years so they haven't exactly given it time to make good. Yet we are the fastest growing campus, I believe, in Scotland with an increase of 14% in student intake as opposed to the average 3%.

Lord, if anyone is actually bothering to read this you must be pretty bored by now, I do apologise but I must get it off my chest. One last thing: pulling out of the Crichton campus very much goes against two of the four points in the University's mission statement. We have got to get ourselves a good solid case to step up our campaign. If there is anyone out there who knows about such things any tips would be most welcome.

Monday, 22 January 2007

Retaking the kitchen

Due to certain happenings late last year my husband took over all kitchen duties. Now it is mine again. Yesterday I went back in, after a break of over two months, to take a good look and re-establish my position: crikey. There was stuff all over the counters, the cooker was so filthy that after I'd cleaned it I didn't have the energy to cook. We ended up getting chinese. I still haven't quite got it the way I like it and I can't work in the wrong sort of space. Then today I got back from work - more of which in a minute - and went in to make a cup of coffee. Remnants of last nights chinese now added to the general dissary: grim. I had to unfocus my eyes to get the coffee made and then leave at speed. Oh god, when will I get time to sort it all out? Is it all men, or just the one I happen to have attached myself to, that don't quite care enough to properly clean up after themselves? Actually, does it really matter? The only one that affects me is this one, who in every other respect (give or take) is THE one. I love him dearly but I just wish he cared about kitchens, or general tidyness, as much as me. We'd get along so much better that way. After all, I'm not obsessive. But a general standard of order is required here. And then there are the pressures of work.
This morning I went to the first of a weeks worth of dissertation workshops (ok, so I'm a student, still). After which I will have to produce a research proposal, followed by a twelve to fifteen thousand word dissertation on lord knows what. Feeling slightly anxious. But, I do it because I love it, mostly anyway. Sometimes I hate it, especially when I have to come home to a stinking kitchen. I do so wish one didn't need money to get help: what I need is someone who loves cleaning and is interested in philosophy so we can swap interests. When I come home late afternoon it could be to a sparkling house and an eager ear: joy!
Still, today, although I came home to a crummy kitchen and an awe inspiring workload, I also have a whole bar of lavender chocolate to comfort me, an hour or two to read, and then my husband will come home clutching a bottle of wine. Joy or what?