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Taking action in higher education

Bournemouth lecturers embarrassed and appalled at vice-chancellor's 'Ratner moment'

17 October 2007 | last updated: 14 December 2015

Lecturers in Bournemouth have expressed outrage and distanced themselves from comments made by the university vice-chancellor, Paul Curran, regarding the state of the university.

Describing his comments as a 'Gerald Ratner moment', local lecturers have said they do not share his view that the university is on the slide or that is merely proximity to the coast and the climate that attracts students to the town.

Referring to the famous gaffe committed by Gerald Ratner back in 1991, when he admitted selling 'crap' in his High Street shops, UCU members are refusing to condone Curran's approach to public relations or to bad-mouth the university themselves.

On 21 September the board of Bournemouth University approved the compulsory redundancy of 50 academic posts. These losses come on top of some 70 posts lost through voluntary severance over the past two years. The vice-chancellor's comments appear to be a misguided attempt to try and justify the redundancies.

Bournemouth UCU chair Dr Kevin Moloney said: 'This feels like a body blow against us by our own vice-chancellor. Academics here can take criticism but this is public ridicule and a kick in the teeth for Bournemouth University from a most unexpected source. We have open days coming up. If parents or their sons and daughters mention his comments, what do we say?'

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'UCU is fighting these jobs losses and urging the board to reconsider its decision. We believe that failure to do so will do irreparable damage to the university's ability to deliver its courses and attract students. However, with a vice-chancellor happy to publicly ridicule his institution and its hardworking staff, one has to wonder where the greatest damage to the university may come from.'

The full interview can be found on the Bournemouth Echo website.

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