Saturday, November 01, 2008

I'm digging a tunnel... Don't tell anyone

Life at SII gets weirder, but my escape plans are well advanced.

Whilst I was waiting for the lift the other day, a "teacher" was telling off a student for missing an appointment. His tone was that of a 1960s comprehensive school deputy head. In the staff room, people complain about students who are late, don't pay attention, wtf. Most staff rooms, you talk about wages and last night's telly - actually talking about students or work is considered to be in bad taste, interfering with the staff room's refuge role.

And yesterday we received an email with guidelines about marking, which said explicitly we should mark-up cheerful good attendees, and mark-down anyone with attitude. To suggest this is unprofessional, to say the least. To write the suggestion into an email distributed to several people is just downright stupid.

I think I've worked out what's going on, though. It's some kind of creeping privatization. This bit has been hived off from MSU, and because it's at arms length, they can employ non-unionized staff at cut-price hourly rates, no need to pay them over the holidays, (that's me and most of the rest of the staff-room numpties).

It's all about cash. The company behind this is massive. I don't know how much the fees are, but given that these students are willing and able to pay £11000 for their three term masters courses, it won't be cheap. Eighteen students to a class, and the teacher on twenty-odd quid an hour, (actually much less when you take into account the burden of marking - I'm giving up my Sunday this week to catch up on it, ffs).

The students buy their own books. The assessment materials are rubbish, drafted by some fuck-wit far away, topped with the SII logo, and emailed to teachers to photocopy. The University provides the premises.

The profit margin is massive. Say the student pays £1000 per term for 150 hours instruction, that's £6.50 per hour per student, whereas if you divide the teachers' wages by the number of students you get a just over a pound an hour, and that ignores the time they give away marking). And the £1000 a term, that's conservative, I suspect it's more.

So big bucks for Globalised Education Inc., a bad atmos for the students and teachers, and an ancient University which has somehow been compromised into selling its arse.

The escape tunnel should be finished in a month or so. Should. (I'm naturally unwilling to blog details of the tunnel's route in the way one ought to be unwilling to count unhatched chickens).