Dizzying heights of self-importance have been reached at the University of East Anglia (UEA) as acting vice-chancellor, Christine Bovis-Cnossen, attended a staff assembly with a bodyguard. 

Obviously afraid that she would be torn limb from limb by the notoriously barbaric professors of UEA, the acting vice-chancellor made a quick escape through a fire exit before an overwhelming vote of no-confidence could be debated. 

Earlier this month, the UEA’s own student union announced a lack of confidence in the leadership team on the back of a £74 million loss in the year 2021-2022. 

As the crisis deepens, the Norwich-based institution has announced it must make £45 million in savings over the next three years. 

The university’s Unison branch has called for a £100,000 salary cap after it was revealed that 67 staff members are paid more than £150,000, with the recently resigned vice-chancellor David Richardson earning upwards of £250,000. 

One hundred and twenty-three academics at the university have signed an unprecedented open letter warning that the current financial turmoil is “out of control”. 

Admittedly, things look bleak at the University of East Anglia. But is personal security really necessary at a staff meeting of legitimately disgruntled colleagues? Certainly not. On top of being utterly tone-deaf, it will only exacerbate any feelings of “us against them” that staff may already have. 

The great literary critic and novelist Malcolm Bradbury who set up the creative writing course at UEA in 1970, producing talents like Ian McEwan and Kazuo Ishiguro, once said: “With sociology, one can do anything and call it work.” 

Given this is Professor Bovis-Cnossen’s area of expertise, she probably regards the bodyguard chaperone and fire-exit getaway as a job well done.

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