THE EMBATTLED head of Aberystwyth university may be forced out, journalists at The Herald’s our 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, but pension contributions 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/ ]
Llanelli choir in fine voice with £6,677 fundraiser for lifesaving charity
A SUCCESSFUL Llanelli choir has presented the Wales Air Ambulance with a cheque of £6,677 after nominating them for their charity of the year.
Côr Curiad Choir are no strangers to raising funds for charity – since their musical director Alex Esney took over in 1996/97 the ladies have raised over £105,000 for charity. Some of the good causes that have benefitted from the kind fundraising events include Teenage Cancer Trust, Marie Curie, Ty Bryngwyn Hospice, and the breast cancer unit at Prince Philip Hospital, Llanelli.
The choir, which consists of 46 females and a solitary male – accompanist Craig Oldham and musical director Alex, welcomes people of all ages. The youngest member is in her twenties and the eldest is 91. This includes mothers, daughters and sisters who all sing for Côr Curiad. They even have members who live outside of Wales.
Spokesperson for the choir Pat Hogson, said: “Now that Covid rules have started to relax a little we have been able to return to more outdoor events, but it will be so good to get back to the ‘new’ normal and do what we love most – to sing and entertain people and to start to raise money for charity again.
“We are able to do as much as we do for charity with the wonderful support of our families and friends and a solid group of supporters who come along to all our events.”
The choir’s music has been described by Pat ‘as varied as their age range’, they sing traditional Welsh and English pieces to Bohemian Rhapsody and songs from Disney, Lord of the Rings, Snow Patrol, Abba and Adele.
Wales Air Ambulance offers advanced critical care and is often described as a ‘Flying ED’.
The on-board consultants and critical care practitioners are highly skilled and carry some of the most pioneering medical equipment in the world. They can deliver blood transfusions, administer anaesthesia and undertake emergency operations at the scene of the incident, before flying the patient directly to specialist care.
Now operational 24/7, the Charity needs to raise £8 million every year to keep the helicopters flying.
Last year saw the ladies held their first-ever virtual Christmas concert, which was a huge success in aid of the Wales Air Ambulance.
Katie Macro, Campaigns Manager for the Wales Air Ambulance, said: “Thank you to everyone at Côr Curiad Choir who despite the challenges that Covid presented to them, they found ways to raise funds for our lifesaving charity. Your support is much appreciated, and every donation is vital and goes towards keeping our helicopters in the air – for the people of Wales, when they need us most. Thank you to the choir’s supporter, friends and family who continue to support and enjoy their charity events.”
There are several ways that the public can continue to support the Wales Air Ambulance.
These include online donations, signing up to the Charity’s Lifesaving Lottery or by coming up with their own innovative ways to fundraise at home. Further information can be found via www.walesairambulance.com.
Alternatively, a £5 text-message donation can be made by texting the word HELI to 70711.
Four UK forces are piloting a new service to report sexual assault online
THE NEW online Rape and Sexual Assault reporting service is now live on the websites of British Transport Police, Merseyside Police, Dyfed Powys Police and Leicestershire Police.
It was created by the National Police Chief’s Council’s (NPCC) Digital Public Contact Programme (DPC) and launched on Tuesday 30 November.
The pilot will run for six weeks.
People wishing to report sexual offences have until now been directed to phone police forces, text 61016 in the case of British Transport Police, or dial 999 in an emergency.
If they do not require immediate police assistance, people – regardless of age or if they want to report the crime – will be directed online via their local force website.
They will find advice and details of charities and other organisations that can help. The forces will ask, if the person is willing, for details of what has happened. There is an option to report the offence anonymously. If reported anonymously, the police will only contact that person if there is believed to be an immediate threat to their life.
Det Ch Insp Sarah White from British Transport Police said: “We know from extensive research that there are a number of reasons why survivors and witnesses are not comfortable in reporting sexual offences to the police.
“One of the common factors remains the unwillingness to provide personal details. We understand this and have been working to look at how we can invite greater reporting, which can help us prevent further crimes and bring offenders to justice.
“Every report provides us with valuable information. And if people aren’t comfortable with making that report, then we want them to know how they can get the support and help they need.
“This new service in not only innovative in the way it has been designed – from the ground up in consultation with more than 40 organisations (including Rape Crisis, End Violence Against Women and the Survivors Trust) – but also in the way it is being deployed – online where people, especially younger people, increasingly are.”
When visiting the websites of those forces, options are available to report a sexual offence themselves, on behalf on another person, or as a witness. People can choose to report in English or Welsh.
If the pilot is successful, it will become a permanent reporting feature and will be available for other forces to adopt nationally.
Det Ch Insp White added: “We’re absolutely committed to ensuring our railways are a safe place for people to travel and we hope this is just another tool in our armoury against sexual offending.”
British Transport Police has also been accredited by White Ribbon, committed to ending violence against woman and girls. It recently signed a pledge encouraging all men within the organisation to make a promise to never commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women.
Detective Superintendent Jayne Butler, Dyfed-Powys Police, said: “As a White Ribbon accredited organisation, committed to ending violence against woman and girls, protecting vulnerable people is a priority for Dyfed-Powys Police and we know how traumatic being the victim of a sexual offence is.
“We encourage victims to come forward to report incidents of this nature so we can thoroughly investigate the crimes whilst ensuring that all victims have the opportunity to be referred for specialist support. The ability to report a sexual offence online will provide another avenue for victims to come forward so we can help them and bring offenders to justice.”
New videos launched to support care for children and young patients
PARENTS, carers of children and young people are being reminded that they can still access 24/7 minor injury care for children at Withybush General Hospital, or during daytime hours at Tenby Walk-in Centre and Cardigan Integrated Care Centre.
Hywel Dda University Health Board has created a series of new information videos explaining the types of care that we are currently able to provide for children and younger patients following the temporary move of the Paediatric Ambulatory Care Unit (PACU) at Withybush.
Minor injury units can treat adults and children over 12-months of age, with minor injuries such as the following:
Minor burns or scalds
Minor limb, head, or face injuries
Foreign bodies in the nose or ear
Minor injury units are run by an experienced team of highly skilled specially-trained emergency nurse practitioners, triage nurses and health care support workers. Some are located on main hospital sites, which have emergency departments as well, and others are in community-based health care centres.
Bethan Thomas, an Emergency Nurse Practitioner in the Minor Injuries Unit at Withybush General Hospital, said: “Part of my role frequently involves treating children and young people with minor injuries, and we can do this quite quickly in the emergency department at Withybush so that those patients can return home having been seen and given care.”
Children with serious illnesses or injuries will be seen at Glangwili General Hospital in Carmarthen or Bronglais General Hospital in Aberystwyth. In an emergency, please dial 999.
In the videos, which are available to view on the Health Board’s website, and on social media, Consultant Paediatrician Dr Didi Ratnasinghe also explains what parents need to be aware of and how to access care if their child has a respiratory illness, while fellow Paediatrician Dr Prem Kumar gives an insight into what to expect if your child needs to stay in hospital for treatment.
Emergency medicine Consultant Dr Nicola Drake provides an explanation of other childhood medical emergencies, and when parents need to call 999 for an ambulance to take a child to Glangwili or Bronglais.
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