A leading Welsh university have denied claims that friends of the controversial head of their scandal-hit business school were appointed without formal interviews, The Eye can reveal.
Critics believe about 10 people known to Marc Clement have been given jobs in Swansea School of Management, without the hearings or presentations to faculty which are a usual practice for new academic appointments.
But the university have stated firmly that all appointments were made in line with the rules.
In a statement to The Eye, a spokesperson said: “All appointments within the School of Management have been made in accordance with the University’s HR (Human Resources) procedures”.
Yet the school has a controversial past, which Swansea university are trying to shake off.
The previous Dean, Nigel Piercy, resigned suddenly five months ago after a series of scandals exposed by The Eye, when his son Niall and wife Nikala Lane were also appointed to the school.
Now sources within the school fear controversy is continuing.
One told The Eye: “I am hearing reports of the university bringing in Marc Clement’s mates as part of the faculty of School of Management”.
Another said: “One can only imagine what he (Marc Clement) will be planning for the management school over the next few years.
“God help us.”
The backdrop to today’s controversy is disturbing.
Professor Clement was in charge at the University of Wales after it was hit by a huge scandal over the validation of bogus degrees, and has been reduced to a rump organisation
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 confirmed qualifications.
Following a second BBC TV 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 University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) (see next week’s story).
The son of Professor Clement’s predecessor, Niall Piercy, quit the school soon after his father resigned, but Nigel Piercy’s wife, Nikala Lane, remains as head of admissions.
The university proclaimed the school’s ‘achievements’ in rankings for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) long after the Piercys had quit.
But The Eye showed how even under the previous regime, numerous academics had already left for other universities, after their work featured in the REF, and there were mass staff walkouts.
Instead the school now declare pride in their ‘new home’ on the Swansea bay campus.
But this too has been condemned as desolate by academics who work there.
Meanwhile Marc Clement has been named as the ‘acting head’ of the school, but it was also agreed he could maintain his role at the university’s college of medicine where he supervises the work of a large number of students.
Commentators now believe the school, which has been engulfed by the Piercy scandal, needs a full-time Dean and Professor Clement is the wrong man for the job.
It is also proving controversial that Professor Clement kept his links to the contentious Institute of Life Sciences where he is ‘Executive Chairman’.
One source at the university told The Eye at the time he was appointed to the school: “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?
“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 high-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 Wales European Funding Office (WEFO) withdrew financial backing from POWIS, which was run by the University of Wales, 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.
What, then, will be the occupancy rate on courses at Swansea’s School of Management under Marc Clement?
If it is low, perhaps this too will be denied.
School for scandal continued part two is next week.
Tomorrow on The Eye – the Welsh Government civil servants who earn multiples of the average wage in Wales.