Star date: 8th May 2013


A memo leaked to the Salford Star and other media by disgruntled staff at the University of Salford reveals plans for the wholesale closure of courses in its Humanities and Law departments, 75 redundancies and over 1,000 students affected - including 245 who have already accepted offers for the soon-to-be-dead courses.

The memo adds that "Salford may be viewed as 'risky choice'" by students, agencies and sponsors.

Full details here…

There's no doubt now that the University of Salford is in financial and credibility meltdown, following events over the last few years that have seen…

• hundreds of staff sacked (see here and see here)
• the fruitless and expensive libel pursuit of Dr Gary Duke (see here)
• the suspension of its own Deputy Vice Chancellor, Dr Adrian Graves, for an alleged incident at its swimming pool (although there might well be more to it),
• increasing economic woes that will see - according to an internal memo leaked to the Salford Star and other media this week - staff strikes, wholesale course closures and major disaffection by current and potential students at the University.

The internal memo, titled Project Focus Communications Strategy and Stakeholder Mapping, concerns how the University of Salford will deal with the anticipated negative fall out of 75 redundancies and wholesale course and department closures in the School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences (HuLSS), and Law.

The document states that "The impact of school and programme closures on the student community cannot be underestimated" and adds that "some 1,300 students (to be updated) likely to be affected".

For the next academic year, the document shows that the University has 1,586 UK/EU offer holders within the two schools (HuLSS and Law), "of whom 245 have to date accepted their offers. All of these applicants will be impacted by the proposed changes and must be communicated with at the earliest opportunity". 

The `damage mitigation' document adds… "Even with careful communication of the proposed changes to HuLSS and Law applicants and offer holders, there is likely to be significant impact on student recruitment: not only for those programmes that are currently part of those schools, but more widely across the entire portfolio, as people make assumptions about the health and sustainability of the institution.

"Even students and applicants whose programmes are not being taught out or transferred will witness staff demonstrations, picket lines and lowered morale together with the associated negative publicity in the local, regional and/or national press…"

The document adds that trade union reaction to the 75 redundancies (on top of up to 87 professional service staff redundancies revealed last week) will see "Strike action a high possibility…will certainly fan the flames via the media…"

A further risk, the Strategy explains, is that "Stakeholders will use the media to undermine the reputation of the University"…

Indeed, Salford University seems particularly concerned about the negative media impact of the cuts on overseas `markets' such as India where "there are already tendencies by the press to sensationalise stories…If anything were reported in the press to add to an already challenging situation, this could have greater negative implications than would be expected in other markets."

The University is also worried about Educational Partners involved in `study abroad, exchange and affiliations', such as RKC Switzerland, which has "invested heavily in the Salford brand" and "might perceive an institutional risk" which "could result in some of these partners seeking alternatives as part of their contingency planning, hence resulting in loss of revenue".

The Communications Strategy adds that educational consultants and agents "may decide not to promote Salford if they see it as an unstable partner which is contracting or likely to close or withdraw courses on a mass scale". It gives the example of 2012 "where programmes were withdrawn very late on in the cycle by the university and this was not known until the students actually came to Salford to register"… "This causes huge reputational damage and results in agents not feeling confident about pushing Salford." 

The documents warns that this is a high priority with the risk of a "Loss of credibility and confidence in Salford – agents advise applicants to go elsewhere and de-prioritise Salford as a partner".

The reaction of commercial partners (the document cites Hobsons, McCann, Educate and BPO) to the cuts and closures is another major cause for concern… "In the event of the portfolio contracting and revenue diminishing, this could detract from their focus on Salford"… while if `sponsoring bodies' "receive rumours of concern, this could impact significantly on their intention to work with Salford. As many of the sponsored students are government officials, this heightens the risk as governments will be loath to send officials to Salford if they feel we are not a safe option."

Indeed the document lists the sponsor risks as "Significant loss of revenue; relationship breakdown; withdrawal of key commercial agreements; word of mouth impact across regions; potential black-listing of Salford…"

The University seems also concerned that `scholarly bodies' - such as the British Sociological Association, British Criminology Society, Academy of Social Sciences, National Council for the Training of Journalists, Skills Set, Political Studies Association, European Consortium for Political Research Council of Modern Languages and the Association for French Language Studies – are "likely to establish petitions and organise online on print media campaigns if subject area threatened".

The list of `scholarly bodies' hints at the courses which might shut down – Journalism, French, Criminology, Sociology etc…

With all the highlighted risks, it's a wonder why the University of Salford is going through with such horrific changes and cuts. But the Communications Strategy document states that the `damage' can be `mitigated' if the University can basically put a positive spin on the story and "ensure that all employees have an overview of the organisation's direction and a clear sense of the `bigger picture'".

Indeed, a few weeks ago, University of Salford Vice Chancellor Martin Hall sent an email to all staff talking about "The exciting, distinctive and more focused vision of Salford that is emerging" and how the University Council "has congratulated us all on the progress we are making across the University in achieving the best-possible outcome for future student enrolment".

Many might disagree with that. As the document states, students may "witness staff demonstrations, picket lines and lowered morale together with the associated negative publicity in the local, regional and/or national press…"

* The University of Salford confirmed to the Times Higher Education Supplement yesterday that the document was genuine, adding "this is a draft internal working document for consideration and has not been approved at any level".

UoS wrote
at 16:46:22 on 10 May 2013
@'Damien' - two things. First, I am not drawing on any confidential information known only to me/the University in my statements. I am drawing on publicly available documents which those who now protest have been too lazy to read for years. Had they bothered to do so, the warning signs for where the institution was headed were plain for all to see. Second, I am not arguing that the University is well managed, or that Professor Hall has done a particularly good job. However, I regard him as a 'failure' (reluctant to use that word) for reasons entirely separate from those set out in this article, previous posts, and other sections of the press, and the online petition currently circulating calling for his resignation. Since he began, I would identify the biggest failings thus: 1) Removal of elective positions from University Council and their replacement with appointed positions, against the express advice of University Senate (the very first person appointed was Hall's Chief of Staff, if nothing else this simply looked bad); 2) The decision to amend the University's Royal Charter and Statutes to allow for "independent" members of University Council to be in the paid employment of, or to have their paid services retained by, the University, which has created a considerable conflict of interest with absolutely no discernable advantage for the good governance of the University; 3) The decision to instruct Mr Ian Austin as the solicitor in the libel claim against Dr Gary Duke *before* the University's Charter had been amended to permit the payment of independent members of Council (Mr Austin was one such member). This was technically unlawful and I rather suspect were the Higher Education Funding Council alerted to the fact, Mr Austin's payments prior to the Charter's amendment would have to be given back. Add in to the mix the fact that Mr Austin is not a defamation lawyer, and the hugely expensive fiasco that followed, and then the decision not to refer the expenditure to University Council, and this looks like an almighty mess; 4) The decision to promote Dr Graves to the position of Deputy Vice Chancellor, in spite of the numerous warnings about the wisdom in this that were given; 5) The recommendation to University Council that they approve the loan agreement with Lloyds TSB for the Gateway Building project. I cannot overstate my surprise that the terms of that loan were agreed to. 6) The enormous sums of money wasted (literally wasted) trying to prevent disclosure of information under the Freedom of Information Act. However, there are some positive signs. Finally, they have gotten a grip on Dr Graves, who I would guess is unlikely to return. The libel case was abandoned (it must have taken a great deal of swallowed pride to discontinue). Hall has admitted that not getting Council to approve the claim in the first place was a mistake. Perhaps there will be further improvements. The reintroduction of elective positions to University Council seems sensible. Reverting back to the Statutes that existed prior, and thus not allowing the payment of 'independent' members of University Council, would be a big step forward. My take is, Hall had a very grandiose idea of institutional change, and implemented an almost military culture of command and control in order to try and effectuate that change. Perhaps he has now realised, checks and balances, and 'loyal opposition', are there for his *own* good as much as for the good of the institution. You cannot run a University based solely on the collective wisdom of a small managerial elite. Eventually you must listen to dissenting voices.
Disgruntled student wrote
at 15:48:42 on 10 May 2013
Being a student at Salford, I received an email from Huw Morris, the acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor, regarding the leaked memo reports. However, I find what is written hard to believe. For example, last year, despite much student protest, the university ignored the thoughts of the very people it is there for (ie: students and loyal, hard-working staff) by deciding to 'teach out' Italian for current students and to withdraw all Italian courses starting from September 2012. You can see this clearly contradicts Mr Morris's comment regarding course closures: "We would however like to make it clear that, contrary to what is being reported, students applying, accepted or enrolling to study in 2013/14 would not see their courses closed whilst they are still studying." I find this comment hard to believe considering what the university has already done. It appears to completely disregard what the people it is there for believe. It seems the 'high and mighty' management are purely concerned about numbers, numbers, numbers and I do not seem to ever hear them considering these 'numbers' (when not talking about money) as actual people with hopes and dreams and how their lives will be affected by short-term decisions to reduce expenditure. Additionally, the management goes on about how cash-strapped the university is yet they will spend £££ on refurbishing buildings which were not really in need of refurbishment, on a logo that's not really a logo and did not need to be changed anyway, on a libel case as well as other things.
Damien wrote
at 11:07:05 on 10 May 2013
UoS you are mistaken in your assertion that I have attempted to misrepresent you. You are clearly privy to current information which I am not concerning the University's finances and I wouldn't attempt to argue in that regard. My assertion and personal belief is simply that mismanagement has taken place over aa long period of time and that during the same period many other institutions have thrived. Look no futher than the estates, facilities and debt position at UCLAN and Edge Hill which weren't a dot on the map compared to Salford in 1994. My belief is simply that many institutions are now in a much better position to weather the current student recruitment/financial problems. I also believe that since 1994 the University has failed to develop a competitive position and in this respect the current administration would seem to be no different than previous ones and are now faced with taking drastic action. Such drastic action is likely to be poorly received by the current or former staff because for many there is either personal experience or a perception of poor management. As an example I would draw your attention to the voluntary severance of a number of academic staff in nursing who left at huge expense - but new staff were subsequently recruited shortly after. Was this then a genuine attempt to cut costs or alter the skill mix or get rid of deadwood? Unfortunately, staff do not know the answer and in these situations the cynical view tends to prevail. The perception is that most Salford staff either have a personal story to tell or know of a colleague or situation that has involved mismangement, waste, bullying or harrassment and that this is the real tragedy that is Salford University. Real people and families have been badly affected in all this. For example staff that have been given 24 hours to accept financial packages or face the sack. Long serving, hard working and loyal staff escorted from the premises. Staff just 'disappearing' without any explanation to colleagues. Expensive consultancy reports that have failed to improve anything. Grade inflation of certain staff whilst others have lost their jobs. The perception of too many chiefs and not enough indians. The growth in 'none jobs'. Numerous re-organisations that appear to have failed. The perceived or actual treatment of many staff compared to the University's welcome stance on equalities issues does however create a dissonance about what kind of organisation the University truly wants to be. The situation feels like the first world war Blackadder with generals making bizzare decisions whilst the troops go over the top. I could go on with numerous actual examples and it is perhaps unfortunate that no one has truly briefed Mr Hall on how things are and how things have been. The past is the key to the present. It is indeed difficult to know what is actually true concerning the 'stories' one hears about Salford but if only 25% are true the situation is in my opinion truly shocking. If Mr Hall would like to understand the history I would be more than happy to sit down and have a cup of coffee with him. I am sure the trade unions would also be similarly pleased to provide the alternative history since merger in 1994. I would end in saying that some fantastic, amazing, hard working, brilliant and loyal staff have lost there jobs in recent years. Others who seem to be resposnible for the problems have thrived. On a final note - no huge packages for anyone leaving for this mismanagement or discliplinary reasons.
bob wrote
at 16:24:19 on 09 May 2013
During my time working at the UoS in the 90's there were a number of scandals then as now. I remember a funny incident when the uni upgraded the toilet roll holders with modern looking dispenser only to find they could no longer get the loo paper to fit this obsolete equipment. I am sure there is a correlation between the the amount of pay and the amount of incompetence. This country has fell into a trap of high pay for failure and passing the buck. A good enima at the top is whats needed !!!
UoS wrote
at 16:23:42 on 09 May 2013
@'Damien' - that is a misrepresentation of what I stated. The investment was build on the assumption of growth in student numbers of 20%. Very high levels of debt and liability have been incurred in a very short space of time. If you add up the MediaCityUK liabilities, existing loan and Lloyds loan facilities, you come up with a figure close to £200 million. Put another way, the institution is 'in deep' - the size of the debts and liabilities actually exceeds annual income. It also exceeds the value of total net assets. This from a position just four years ago when debt-to-income ratio was a mere 14%. Most of these debts and liabilities were agreed to before Professor Hall even took up his tenure. The lease for MediaCityUK was signed before he arrived. Designs were commissioned for a replacement building for Adelphi before he began his job. The income assumptions were always delusional but the direction had been set before Hall began. Professor Harloe and Dr Graves are the ones who set the strategic direction many years ago, based on income assumptions which were optimistic to say the least. It would have been possible to stop the Gateway building from going ahead (the loan agreement was only signed relatively recently), but then the circa. £2.5m spent to that point on design and preliminary work would have to be written off (perhaps no bad thing). The question is, will a change of leadership improve prospects? It is theoretically possible to still withdraw from the Lloyds loan agreement before funds are drawn down and building work commences. However that is not a decision for the Vice-Chancellor but for University Council to take. Perhaps that would be sensible under the circumstances. That does not change reality at the moment and as things stand, income has dropped markedly and there are simply not the funds available to subsidise provision. That is why I state, the decision to close courses is immutable - it will be taken independent of who leads the institution. Professor Hall's resignation/dismissal may have some superficial appeal but it is not a 'solution' to the terrible position affected staff and students find themselves in. The fundamental problem remains contracting income which is the direct result of central government policy. Some of us foresaw such changes in policy years ago and warned of the consequences at the time.
Damien wrote
at 10:40:24 on 09 May 2013
Salford University has been in decline for at least 10 years. This has happened during a time when competitors such as UCLAN, Edge Hill, Man Met and many others have seen huge growth in student numbers and also in the size and quality of their estate and facilities. It is frankly a disgrace. For UoS and others to claim that all their troubles are down to recent government cut backs is disingenuous. Indeed the financial picture would be even worse but for generous NHS funding since 1996. Criticisms can be levelled at a number of levels. Firstly, competent strategic direction, lack of understanding of the market and especially to take advantage of the boom years for HE. Secondly financial competence e.g. the media city lease - Peel Holdings must be laughing the heads off. Thirdly, the way staff have been treated, managed and the organisational culture that has developed. For example the growth in higher grade (grades 6, 7, 8 and 9) support staff that occurred i.e. too many chiefs and not enough indians springs to mind. Stumbling from one re-organisation to the next and management consultant reports. Failing to listen to staff at lower levels who know the business. I could cite many examples of failings in these 3 areas. Whilst, I accept all the blame is not Martin Hall's he seems to have done little to address any of these three issues. In particular, the personal tradegies many individuals have faced cannot be easily disregarded. As for mortgagetopay you are one of the lucky ones - many of your colleagues have been already affected by the tradegy that is Salford University. I gave the best part of my working career to Salford and gave my heart and soul to the place. These days I may not take pleasure in the decline of the place but I can't help but smile. Some of us predicted this for years and no doubt our colleagues like mortgageto pay were the smug ones who went happily along for the ride. Good riddance I say!
UoS wrote
at 10:40:18 on 09 May 2013
@wrote - where to begin? Disclosure orders can only be made with the approval of the Court. You may recall the concern about indiscriminate disclosure (as was originally drafted by Mr Austin) was addressed by the District Judge who insisted the order be rephrased to limit disclosure. Since he is not a lawyer, I have my doubts that Hall personally drafted or otherwise had any input into the form of the original order put before the District Judge. Pursuing the libel claim has proven to be a waste of money, but that is because the claim never reached trial and the reputation of those criticised was never vindicated. That was on a technical legal point, or, put another way, the claim was lost on a technicality and not on its merits. As with the draft disclosure order, I doubt it was Professor Hall's decision to issue the claim in the name of the University. Or, if it were, that decision was taken on the basis of legal advice (evidently, incorrect advice). If there is anything for which Hall can be blamed in that whole fiasco, it is the foolish decision to instruct Ian Austin, disgraced and certainly not a defamation expert, and at any rate as a member of University Council part of the very body which was supposed to supervise such expenditure (but did not - something Hall now, finally, admits was a mistake, albeit three years too late). On alternatives to redundancy, sub-leasing MediaCity is something that can only happen within the contractual boundaries of the lease. I have not seen the lease agreement, but the landlord (Peel Holdings) may not have approved such a clause for sub-leasing, or if so the definition of when and how this can occur is likely to be very restrictive. Even if a sub-lease was negotiated, who is going to lease a specialist academic space at a cost of several million pounds per year? Other Universities are really the only show in town and they do not have Salford's specialisation in this area of study and research, and even if they did they are dealing with their own cash crisis. There are also two factors you have not considered - a sub-lease does not solve the immediate problem of contracting income, and even if it did, once sub-leased the University loses the revenue stream of all the students that are studying there. Many apply solely on the basis that they wish to study there. So that in turn means more income is lost and you are again in a downward spiral. You also suggest asset disposal - this policy is actively being considered by University Council, as you would be well aware had you bothered to engage in even a rudimentary bit of research. Sacking Hall, or forcing him to resign, does not release the University from either its loan covenants with banks or its lease agreement with Peel Holdings (things that were agreed to, either in contract or in principle, BEFORE he arrived). It does not, as you put it, loosen the bonds to the old strategy. Those bonds are enshrined in contracts which the Courts will uphold, if need be by placing the University into administration to ensure creditors are paid. The last thing I would want is for a trade union to take the lead in institutional management. The UCU does not exactly have a stellar reputation at Salford.
at 04:39:28 on 09 May 2013
There is no reward for failure and Hall has failed miserably, Apart from his assault on civil liberties (the university required the names of all anonymous bloggers irrespective of whether they had made defamatory contributions, The aim was to stifle all criticism even legitimate critics) Hall allowed the finance function to be subordinated to Graves instead of acting as a fiscal counter weight (a failure of corporate governance I suggest). Apart from the waste of money pursuing Gary Duke (still not resolved as they waste yet more money pursuing Duke at the ICO Tribunal) and other examples of profligacy the fact remains Hall pursued a disastrous financial policy and should now pay the price, termination of his employment . As for there is no other way but to sack staff (shades of Thatcher and a certain lack of imaginative thinking) even sub leasing Mediacity would cut costs dramatically, what about selling a few assets that adorn but have no useful function? At this stage the important point is to shame Hallinto doing the honourable thing, resigning. Once he has gone the bonds tieing the UoS to the old strategy are loosened and there is then space for more positive management. Removing Hall also allows the UCU and students to take a more hands on role in rejuvenating the UoS. Leaving Hall in place allows more of wat has brought us to ths point. Hall is the main obstacle to a better improved UoS. Oh and why do people here hide behind alias, frightened of standing up and being counted - always was the hallmark of liberal cowardice.
Michael Felse wrote
at 19:04:24 on 08 May 2013
I agree with Bob, the truth must come out. All these institutions should become accountable to the people.
C Lockwood wrote
at 19:04:16 on 08 May 2013
Close Salford University down completely, it would do a lot of people a big favour. Let's face it Salford is also a dump.
bob wrote
at 17:47:17 on 08 May 2013
I understand the view about the leak and the harm it will cause, but the truth should be the overriding concern. If the truth does not come out then the people responsible of these catalogue of errors and stupidity will move on to the next institution/business and cause the same harm or more. I worked at the university for 10 years in the late 90's and it seems very little has changed. Management fook up, staff and students take the pain.
UoS wrote
at 17:46:56 on 08 May 2013
@Eric Longley - how do they "increase income"? It does not happen easily or magically. It being a University the prime sources of income are Research and Tuition. Both of those streams of income have been curtailed by central government dicta. I am sure if you have any compelling suggestions for this, Professor Hall would be more than willing to listen to them. 'Getting rid' of Professor Hall, in your words, would NOT equate to a change of policy. These policies are immutable - they will be followed whoever is heading up the place. "Restrain spending" - spending has been restrained, as the Accounts evidence, although there is still scope for further savings. Virtually all of the capital investments and leases which are some of the major contributors to the current problems were the result of policy decisions taken before Professor Hall's tenure began. Indeed, the lease for MediaCity was signed before he had even arrived, just as the designs for the replacements arts building were commissioned before he took office. The libel case was obviously a disaster. The only mitigation for him there being that he presumably acted on the basis of legal advice, although that is obscured by the incredibly dafft decision to instruct Ian Austin, a serving member of Council and Chair of the Audit Committee, himself in more than a spot of hot water at the time. I would say that providing University Council retain confidence in him, there is no need for him to resign, since it will not solve the problem. Also I do not think your allegation of "deception" is fair or accurate. The notional application deadline for UCAS is January 15th. It will not have been until then, when a realistic impression of course demand could have been arrived that, that the University will have had a cogent understand of what courses ceased to be viable.
Eric Longley wrote
at 16:13:04 on 08 May 2013
Simply not true that the UoS has no option but to cut costs. The right answer is; a) increase income but not sloughing off students b) get rid of the master of disaster (Go Hall go) ok thats a cut I agree. c) restrain spending d) attack wasteful areas of expenditure - failed libel cases, salary increases for overpaid failures in to management, sell off assets that are surplus to requirements, slow down refurbishments and so on. e)remove the Finance Director from control of the Registrar and reimpose the restraining balance that was there before Graves e) stop spending money on lawyers (instead of spending £150,000+ on failed libel the question I want answered is could the UoS have settled for a lesser sum, would be very interesting to hear the UoS response. I see no reason why Hall should be allowed to stay, he presided over a massive deception of incoming students, he authorised expenditure on failed libel case, his only response has been to cut other peoples jobs a sign of an unimaginative, weak and feeble leadership.
@MortgageToPay wrote
at 16:12:12 on 08 May 2013
I did wonder the same thing myself. It seems a little myopic to leak the document, which I could have done myself, but did not for precisely the reasons you point out (it would only add to the problems). Perhaps they were hoping the embarassment caused would induce a change of direction from management?
MortgageToPay wrote
at 14:04:32 on 08 May 2013
I work at a different University, my partner works at Salford. With the changes to Higher Education funding I expect every University Senior Management Team to be reviewing Programme Offerings and Staffing levels and to be considering the impact on any decisions they make on their reputation. This memo says to me that your Senior Team are doing what they probably should be doing. However, for those without an appreciation of the finances of the sector (e.g. your potential incoming students for 13/14) leaking that memo is going to damage your reputation and probably reduce your income for the coming year ... making any cuts more likely more quickly. So, I have a question for the leaker (who will presumably be spending today reading these comments) ... were you just too stupid to understand that or have you deliberately rushed your colleagues up against the wall for redundancy? I await your answer.
Winston Smith wrote
at 11:06:35 on 08 May 2013
Might as well close down the Business School while they're at it - who'd take a Business, Accounting or Management course at a place where they don't seem to understand Business, Accounting or Management?
bob wrote
at 11:06:25 on 08 May 2013
Donnygate should also be done on salford labour council, I am sure we would find a lot of issues.
Michael Felse wrote
at 10:05:23 on 08 May 2013
We must have a Donnygate open inquiry to salvage the good work of the University otherwise I fear that we will see courses lost to neighbour Manchester Uni and that is a slippy slope for the future of education in Salford's great City.
UoS wrote
at 10:05:08 on 08 May 2013
Can I just point out a few pertinent facts? The first is that the University has absolutely no choice now but to cut costs. Some of us bother to take the time to read University Council papers and Annual and Mid-Year Accounts on a regular basis. For better or for worse, the University is heavily indebted as a result of its investment programme, especially at MediaCityUK (although, in accounting terms, this is a 'contractual liability' rather than a 'debt'). There are also a series of bank loans which have been agreed to, in my opinion on extremely poor terms for the University. In particular, a recent £50m loan facility agreed I think with Lloyds had some deeply worrying clauses, including the use of the University's key buildings as collateral and a very unusual definition of 'default'. This may well have helped lower the interest rate, but the rate is still high. There has also been a very considerable drop in University income, in cash and real terms. This is the direct result of government policy, a combination of 'core and margin' reduction in HEFCE-controlled numbers and stringent border controls for non-EU students combining to severely harm the University's primary source of income (tuition fees). Research income is not performing as well as was hoped, as the Research Councils have focused virtually all of their funding on a small elite of ancient Universities. HEFCE have scrapped capital grants for infrastructure investment (this has partly necessitated the taking out of the Lloyds bank loan to build a new 'Gateway' building). A recent IT investment across the University ran way over budget, and has had problems since go-live. The University has or is set to breach its loan covenant with at least one lender. I believe it has changed its primary bank recently, although I would leave it to others to guess why. Who is to blame for this? I would say a combination of management hubris, and government policy, are responsible. The 'Master Plan' inveiled by Professor Hall's predecessor, which Hall has stuck doggedly to since, made the almost unbelievable decision to try and fund investment through surplus income. 'Project Headroom' it was called at the time. The entire basis of this investment portfolio across the campus was built on some very shaky assumptions. For instance, there was an assumption at the time that student numbers (and thus, income) would continue to grow for years, with a 20% growth being the target. I do not recall any assessment being made of the risk of a change in central government policy affecting these assumptions, although this risk was pointed out to Professor Harloe. Essentially the University was caught in the 'boom' of circa. 2007, and deluded itself into thinking income would simply keep rising and rising. A hugely ambitious campus redevelopment plan was built on the basis of that assumption, and now the income is no longer there to support it. Of course, prodigiously expensive libel claims, and gung-ho expenses claims, do not help. But eliminating these would not have changed the outcome. The University now has no choice but to cut provision. It cannot withdraw from its loan agreements, or contractual obligations at MediaCityUK, without the risk of default and possible foreclosure. Not surprisingly, staff and students are the ones who will suffer as a result. However, I fear none paid attention to the key decisions at the time they were taken, so they are themselves at least partly to blame for their ignorance. Had more people spoken up, rather than lone voices (who risked, and lost, a great deal in doing so), we might not be where we are.
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Salford Shopping Centre (next to Lloyds Bank)

The great Salford Star Auction takes place tomorrow, Sunday 9th December at the Star pop-up shop and exhibition at Salford Precinct. It's being conducted by Nigel Pivaro, with events from 1pm and the auction around 2:30pm.

Lots include a Holiday With The Salford Star (plus a night in a dangerously cladded tower block), the original Salford Star (£1,000,000 ono), artworks and photos, prints, amazing children's items from the Savannah-Rose Collection and loads more...

Full details here...


Star date: 8th December 2018


A brick from Ringo Starr's birthplace home in Liverpool is to be auctioned by Nigel Pivaro at Salford Precinct tomorrow in a bid to save the independent community news outlet, Salford Star.

The brick, taken from the former Beatle's house in the Welsh Streets of Liverpool, is hugely symbolic for Salford in loads of different ways..

Full details here...


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