THE EMBATTLED head of Aberystwyth university may be forced out, journalists at The Herald’s partner organisation, The Eye, have revealed.
As storm clouds gather over Vice Chancellor April McMahon, sources have confirmed to us that she could be leaving the institution, which has plunged down university rankings, by the end of the year.
Dr McMahon was paid £228,000 for 2012/13, after a pay rise award of 9.57 per cent, butpensioncontributions took the figure to £252,000.
Officials at the university insist this salary, which is 60 per cent higher than that of the Prime Minister David Cameron, is “performance-related”.
Yet Aberystwyth have dropped several places in key performance tables, and a plunge in student applications has led to a severe financial crisis, even as they have opened a new campus on the tropical island of Mauritius.
The university have fallen four places to 110 (out of 119) in The 2016 Guardian University league table.
In May last year Aberystwyth dropped 17 places to 87 in The Complete University Guide.
In The Times and The Sunday Times guide they fell 11 places to 93.
A damaging profile of the university stated: “Aberystwyth has set itself the goal of becoming one of the top 30 universities in the UK and the top 250 in the world by 2017.
“It is a tall order where The Times and The Sunday Times league table is concerned, with the university presently in danger of falling out of our top 100, dropping 11 places this year after last year’s 35-place fall.”
Meanwhile a petition demanding the resignation of Dr McMahon was started by angry students who are worried about their degrees.
It now has almost 2,000 signatories, and declares: “Staff work in what they often describe as a ‘culture of fear’.
“Students came to Aberystwyth when it was a top 50 University and will leave with a degree from an institution flailing at the bottom of the league tables.”
The revelation about Dr McMahon is set against a backdrop of controversy.
Just over two years ago dozens of protesters stopped traffic on a road at the entrance to the university, in support of two staff members who had been suspended.
The director of the university’s arts centre Alan Hewson and the operations manager, Auriel Martin, had been suspended from their jobs since February.
Aberystwyth have also been beset by financial trouble caused by falling rolls.
They have seen their first year student-enrollment figures drop by almost a quarter since 2011.
Their director of finance, Peter Curran, said: “The financial implications of under-recruitment have never been so significant”
It is obvious that deep dissatisfaction exists, after the university dropped in educational rankings and a financial crisis has hit.
But officials remain defiant, saying: “We would rather be higher in the league tables – yes, and we will be; but they are really only a small part of the story.
“We are a university built on a proud tradition of extending a university education to all who are able to benefit from it, committed to excellent teaching informed by high-quality research, and passionate about the success of our students.
“We are delivering outstanding results and look forward to another year of high achievement for students and staff.”
Despite the growing controversy, the university have announced the establishment of a new campus on the luxury holiday island of Mauritius, and the appointment of David Poynton as founding dean.
Aberystwyth say he will be responsible “for the establishment, operation and development of the campus as well as its academic portfolio and engagement with the Mauritian and international communities”.
Perhaps the academic community may now be satisfied once Dr McMahon moves on.
Or perhaps not.
[To read more quality investigative journalism from around Wales visit http://walespolitico.uk/waleseye/ ]
Investigation into remains found at Aberaeron property continues
POLICE say the surrounding the discovery of remains of a body, at a house in Aberaeron, is ongoing.
On Monday, March 12, Dyfed-Powys Police received a report concerning the welfare of two women from the Aberaeron area.
On police attendance at the property one woman was taken to hospital, where she remains.
Searches of the property proved difficult due to the conditions inside.
On Monday, March 19, remains of a body were found.
Police believe the body had been there for some time. The complex investigation in to the circumstances is ongoing and the death is currently being treated as unexplained. H.M. Coroner has been informed but formal identification has not yet been carried out.
The second person, Mrs. Gertrude Gaynor Jones, known locally as Gaynor, currently remains outstanding and is being treated as a missing person until her whereabouts are confirmed. Anyone with information that could help police with their enquiries is urged to speak to police officers in Aberaeron, either by calling 101 or visiting Aberaeron Police Station.
Sushi company nominated for national awards
A SUSHI company based in Ceredigion has been nominated for two awards.
Swshi, which was started in 2016 by Sion and Rhiannon Tansley, offers the sushi through mobile and pop-up business.
The business has been dominated in the Food Awards Wales 2018 for the Best Street Food and Takeaway of the Year categories.
The pair gained their experience with sushi from roles as head chef and senior manager for the largest sushi restaurant chain in the UK.
The pair then moved to Ceredigion and felt there was a gap in the market for high quality sushi.
Two years of Active Travel improvements worth £336,750 completed in Cardigan
WORK has recently been completed by Ceredigion County Council to widen the footway on Pont y Cleifion Road, which sees the culmination of a two year package of grant-funded Active Travel improvements in Cardigan.
Deputy Leader of the Council, Councillor Ray Quant MBE, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Technical Services said, “I’m delighted that grant funding of £294,575 has been received from the Welsh Government’s Local Transport Fund over the two year programme. Coupled with financial contributions also made by Ceredigion County Council and Cardigan Town Council, the total value of this package scheme amounted to £336,750 to benefit the well-being of residents of Cardigan town. Further potential improvements have been identified by Highways Officers and these will be developed next year with a view to future implementation and construction.”
During the first year, the improvements were concentrated in the vicinity of Cardigan Primary School, which saw the introduction of a new 20 mph zone with traffic calming, wider footways, upgraded crossings and a new path to the swimming pool. A new cycle shelter and two new scooter shelters were installed at the primary school to help encourage more Active Travel journeys and less car trips. This was aided further by providing two brand new scooters and helmets which the school have used for pupils to earn ‘Scooterer of the week’.
The second year saw a 20 mph zone and traffic calming implemented outside Cardigan Secondary School, again with wider footways and new raised table crossings to aid pedestrians and mobility users. A new cycle shelter was installed to encourage pupils and staff to cycle to the school. The scheme included completion of the ‘missing’ footway link to the other side of the road on Aberystwyth Road with new resurfacing which has improved pedestrian connectivity and user comfort.
A new pedestrian refuge was also installed in the carriageway to aid crossing on Aberystwyth Road. The footway on Pont y Cleifion road was previously narrow and unsuitable for pushchair or mobility users due to the lack of dropped kerb provision. However the recent construction works have brought this section of footway up to modern design standards and provides a better quality Active Travel link between the town centre and the Parc Teifi Business Park.
Councillor John Adams-Lewis, Local Member for Mwldan ward and Chair of governors for Cardigan Primary School added, “I’m pleased that Cardigan Town Council has supported these improvements financially which has resulted in a number of footway enhancements in the town, especially at both our school locations which have benefited from road safety improvements and reduced speed limits. I would also like to thank Ceredigion County Council for their financial contributions and to Highways Officers for securing this grant funding and for overseeing these high quality works.”
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