The Students’ Union has released a report summarising the values that Sussex students say they want to see in the next Vice-Chancellor. The report is based on a consultation conducted in Library Square by Union staff and officers back in October 2015.
Over 250 students were asked to fill out a ‘values map’ by placing a green dot next to the qualities they most wanted to see in the next Vice-Chancellor, and a red dot by those qualities they least wanted to see. The ‘values map’ was based on the research of social psychologist Shalom H. Schwartz.
The two most popular values were ‘social justice’ and ‘equality’, with 66 and 48 green dots respectively. ‘Self-indulgent’ gained 77 red dots and ‘wealth’ gained 75, making them the two least popular values. The Students’ Union recommends, on the basis of its research, that “the University hire someone who values social equality”, someone who “acts in a socially, ethically and environmentally responsible manner”. The Students’ Union note in the report that these results line up with their own values.
An article on The Tab Sussex subsequently lampooned the Union for its “unrepresentative” research, claiming that faulty methodology had been employed in order to manipulate the results. A Tab correspondent told The Badger he believed the study suffered from “self-selection bias”, because allegedly the Union failed to randomly choose its participants. By waiting in a tent for students to come to them, according to The Tab, the researchers attracted a disproportionate number of Union-friendly participants.
In response to this criticism, Students’ Union President Abraham Baldry claimed he and the other Union staff “made sure to approach people passing through Library Square”. But several eyewitnesses have told The Badger that Baldry and his team largely stayed planted in their tent, waiting for students to come to them.
Simon Laver of Perret-Laver, the executive search firm hired to help in the VC hunt, lavished the Union with praise, saying: “I…felt that the report on the students’ views was very helpful, considered and reflective of a serious engagement with the process”. Laver went on to say the consultation process was “of the standard that I would expect in terms of best practice within the sector”.
Current Vice-Chancellor, Michael Farthing, who has been in the position for nine years, is due to step down in August. The Vice-Chancellor is the figure responsible for the overall running of the University.
The recruitment process for the next Vice-Chancellor is due to end in the spring. Baldry sits on the selection panel. This is the first time a registered student has sat on the selection panel for a University of Sussex Vice-Chancellor.