Senior academics have warned the new appointment of a head at a scandal-hit Welsh business school may be “a disaster waiting to happen”, The Eye can disclose.
Marc Clement has been named as the new ‘acting head’ of Swansea School of Management, yet he is to maintain his role at the university’s college of medicine where he supervises the work of a large number of students, and was in charge of the University of Wales before it virtually collapsed.
Commentators now believe the school, which has been enveloped by the Piercy scandal, needs a full-time Dean and Professor Clement is the wrong man for the job.
Nigel Piercy resigned suddenly as Dean almost three weeks ago, after calling his critics “grubby little people”.
His son Niall, also quit his job at the school soon afterwards, but his wife, Nikala Lane, remains.
Yet serious questions have been raised about the man who has taken over, who is retaining his work at Swansea college of medicine, along with his links to the Institute of Life Sciences.
One told The Eye: “It is worth noting that whilst he (Marc Clement) was Vice Chancellor of the University of Wales, he was supervising ELEVEN Ph.Ds at Swansea University (all awarded in 2010).
“Who allowed him to do this?
“No wonder he didn’t have time to focus on ensuring the University of Wales survived.
“He is now going to be doing the same at the School of Management whilst keeping his roles within the Institute of Life Sciences and supervising far too many research students.
“What will happen to academic standards within the School of Management?
“It is another disaster waiting to happen and would never happen in other universities.”
He was a key figure in a scholarship project at the centre of a scandal over funding.
Under the £11.4 million Prince of Wales Innovation Scholarship (POWIS) high-flying graduates from all over the world were meant to be singled out for PhD projects that would see them embedded in new hi-tech companies creating employment opportunities.
Each student was to receive a stipend of £20,000 a year, as well as a research grant of £5,000 and get all tuition fees paid.
Prince Charles said when it was launched: “It seeks to take the best of Wales to the world and bring the best of the world to Wales.
“The scholarships are, I think, a very practical and very exciting response to how higher education can help the Welsh economy in a time of crisis.”
But in 2011 the Cardiff bay Government’s Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO) withdrew financial backing from POWIS, which was run by the University of Wales where Professor Clement was Vice Chancellor, after serious irregularities were identified by auditors.
In their report three men, including Professor Clement, were identified as having overlapping interests in seven companies.
It was also revealed that one of the first beneficiaries of POWIS was the daughter of Professor Richard Davies, Vice Chancellor of Swansea University, his overall boss.
Yet she did not hold a first-class degree as the scheme stipulated.
As well as POWIS and the Institute of Life Sciences, Professor Clement is closely linked to the ill-fated Technium initiative, which was designed to foster new companies.
Some Techniums have had extremely poor occupancy rates and six were scrapped five years ago.
He was also the senior official in charge at the University of Wales, when a huge row erupted over the validation of bogus degrees.
In November 2010, BBC Wales screened an episode of their TV current affairs series Week In Week Out which claimed that Fazley Yaakob, a pop star and head of Fazley International College, a University of Wales partner in Malaysia, held bogus degrees.
Following a second BBC investigation, the vice-chancellors of Cardiff, Swansea, Aberystwyth, Bangor and Glamorgan universities – known collectively as the St David’s Day Group – called for an end to the University of Wales.
Yet Professor Clement controversially exercised an ‘option to return’ to Swansea university as it effectively abolished itself following a ‘merger’ with the university of Trinity St David’s.
Another senior academic told The Eye: “This seems a very strange appointment (Acting Head of Swansea School of Management).
“Is he (Clement) really the person to head a business school which has been in crisis?”
But a crisis may be an opportunity for others.
And for commentators it is like watching a car crash in slow motion.