South West Wales

Probe into running of Swansea Uni School of Management

Prof Nigel Piercy Image copyright The Waterfront
Image caption Prof Nigel Piercy has run the school since 2013

An investigation into Swansea University's School of Management is under way, the BBC understands.

Concerns have emerged about how the department is being run with 23 academic staff leaving since 2013.

Several past and present employees told the BBC they were unhappy with the way they were treated.

The claims have been made against the school's dean Professor Nigel Piercy. The university has declined to comment on the specific allegations.

Bethan Jenkins, AM, has called for an external review.

Image copyright The Waterfront
Image caption The march outside the building calling for change

The School of Management is headed by Professor Nigel Piercy who began his role as dean in 2013. In the two years since, 23 academic staff - the majority at senior level - have left with several citing the way the department was being managed as the reason behind their departure.

A number of current and former staff have spoken anonymously to BBC Wales' Newyddion 9 programme for S4C alleging poor management.

One academic described the school's management as being "a dictatorship" while another told the programme there was a culture of exclusion within the school.

"Staff have been called human garbage, told we're toxic, miserable old dogs, hippy dippies... so the language is totally inappropriate for the work place. Runs totally contrary to the dignity at work policy and of course is very upsetting for those who are being referred to," they said.

"People... are excluded from meetings, activities, events... it sends a clear message that those people are not wanted and do not have a place in the future of the school," they added.

Another academic explained the reasons for leaving the school: "I left because of a change in management that I found very difficult cope with - it changed very abruptly, very dramatically and it was quite traumatic really," they said.

"There was always a looming fear, I think, that very much started to venture towards a culture of bullying.

Image caption Bethan Jenkins AM said the allegations have been detrimental to the school's name

In October 2014, students raised concerns with a petition attracting more than a thousand signatures. In February 2015, there was a demonstration calling for change.

In an internal document seen by BBC Wales, Prof Nigel Piercy wrote: "Certain senior individuals have created themselves into a cancer - that must now be removed to allow the rest of the school to survive."

Sir Roderick Evans, a pro-chancellor at the university, was asked to conduct a review into the running of the school by the university's council. He found the complaints "were sufficiently consistent and credible as to require investigation."

BBC Wales understands that an investigation is under way.

The university said the school was going through a period of change to improve, which had seen increased applications to study at the school and it rise up the league tables.

"The staffing in the School of Management has been substantially expanded, with almost 90 new appointments, to add new teaching and research capabilities and enhanced professional services to support students," the university said in a statement.

Adding: "We cannot comment on individual cases, but we are an equal opportunities employer and take seriously any allegation of harassment and bullying."

South Wales West assembly member, Bethan Jenkins, was also contacted by individuals at the university following several incidents at the school.

She said: "It has been detrimental to their good name, and that is why others and myself are hoping we can get an external review, not an internal review, an external review to look into all of this, so that we can come to a positive conclusion."

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