‘Low’ staff morale at Aberystwyth University

STAFF morale at Aberystwyth University is very low due to poor management at the institution, a whistleblower has told BBC Wales yesterday (19th).

Photo - Tomos Nolan

Photo – Tomos Nolan

The whistleblower, a lecturer who has worked at the university for more than 20 years, has said that managers are unwilling to recognise the major problems which the university is facing, including a huge fall down league tables and a large drop in student numbers.

12,475 applications were made to Aberystwyth University in 2011, the year before higher tuition fees were introduced, but but 2014 this had dropped to 8,425 applications.

Despite dropping from the top 50 institutions in 2011 to 87th in the latest Complete University Guide, pro vice-chancellor Dr Rhodri Llywd Morgan denied any problems with morale. He said that:

“We’re very confident when we look to the future. We can see that the investment [of £100m in new university facilities] is starting to pay off. We’re investing in the student experience and we know that is the way to increase satisfaction. We’re looking ahead with confidence, knowing that we have the plans in place for a successful future here.”

In an interview with BBC Radio Cymru’s Manylu programme, the lecturer said that the location of the university was critical and that this combined with high fees meant that students were voting with their feet.

They added that:

“In my opinion, the management methods that have been adopted have led to low levels of morale amongst staff which in turn have led to a considerable drop in the levels of student satisfaction – and this has had a negative effect on recruitment.”

A university spokesperson stated that:

“Aberystwyth University is responding to the challenges it faces, which include significant and far reaching changes within the higher education sector. Over £100m is being invested in new facilities. Fferm Penglais, an investment of £45m, provides some of the best accommodation available in any university in the UK.

£40m is being invested in The Aberystwyth Innovation and Enterprise Campus at Gogerddan, and plans are afoot to invest up to £20m in the Old College. A 3 year £8.1m investment programme in teaching spaces and technology is nearing completion. Coupled with the establishment of the Aber Academy, which provides training for staff to develop new and innovative ways of teaching, these are key elements in improving the student learning experience.

Student appreciation of the excellent work of staff is reflected in the success of this year’s Student Led Teaching Awards, which has seen more nominations than ever before, over 900 compared with 400 last year. Alongside this, during the past three years, the University has introduced a range of initiatives to recognise the achievements of staff, including a revised academic promotion framework, and accelerated increments and contribution points, which rewards outstanding performance of staff.

In recognition of the University’s commitment to student and staff health and wellbeing, the University was awarded the Bronze Corporate Health Standard in September 2014, and has made significant progress towards the achievement of the Silver award.

This year’s visiting days are proving very popular. The number of applicants attending are up significantly on the past three years, and feedback from visiting prospective students has been very encouraging. Furthermore, an additional visiting day has been added to the calendar due to popular demand. And the success of the most recent Research Exercise Framework (REF2014) means that students at Aberystwyth are more likely to be taught by staff involved in research of an international standing than in many other universities. There has never been a better time to study at Aberystwyth University.”