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QU Incidents
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squirk



Joined: 03 Dec 2009
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2010 3:36 pm    Post subject: QU Incidents Reply with quote

As a newbie in the English department, I am very worried about a strange practice called the Faculty Incidence Report system (FIR). Basically, if you do something stupid (usually out of ignorance or not having been informed or having someone squeal on you), ou get hauled into the boss for the dumbest things. If you challenge it, he becomes very confrontational. There is a whole surveillance team watching your every move. I have never worked in such a bizarre place; some teachers are quitting, including newbies, as the monitoring, workload, agenda, and attitude are not really workplace friendly. Teachers have been told that their evaluation will be affected by this FIR thing. The FIR goes into your file forever!! The ironic thing is that teachers are supposed to be given a verbal warning about problem areas but these people donít even follow their own guidelines. Why not? Another strange thing is waiting until Christmas to tell people if theyíve had their contracts renewed. Teachers are complaining this is a tactic to upset people. Why? What is the motive? I don't get it. Don't ask questions is what one teacher was told. The housing is really bad, we live in a state of siege in a compound full of teenage hoodies. Some people are trying to move but it ain't easy.

Has anyone else ever worked in a place with this FIR thing?
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 16121
Location: USA

PostPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2010 4:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Every university has its own system of reporting "incidents," but most involve something being put in writing into your files... permanently. If you feel that it was unjust or incorrect, you could request that you be able to have included in writing your side of the incident. One rarely wins these little debates with management... wherever one works (everywhere in the world)... and one always has to be very careful how one disputes it. We have only your side, so it is hard to say whether you provoked the confrontation.

Obviously if you want a clarification of your departmental rules, this board is not the place to ask. Ask your management.

As to notification of contract renewal, QU is one of the earliest notifiers. Many employers wait until late February or March... and some don't bother until just before summer leave. Most notify soon after the start of the second semester. So, you are complaining because they notify people early?

VS
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lollaerd



Joined: 03 Jul 2009
Posts: 337

PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2010 12:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

veiledsentiments wrote:
As to notification of contract renewal, QU is one of the earliest notifiers. Many employers wait until late February or March... and some don't bother until just before summer leave. Most notify soon after the start of the second semester. So, you are complaining because they notify people early?

VS


In fact, if QU lets people know the at the end of December, then this is very late notification for Qatar universities. Letting people know around Christmas seems very Scroogy. The 6 universities at Ed City ask for expressions of intent in November. Then you get your renewal after that's been processed. These universities do not have a habit of firing people like QP and QU. This is why you don't hear about any complaints, apart from ABP which has a different system. Even they ask their teachers pretty early about their intent. They treat the teachers well so people stay instead of quitting. The only place people have had complaints about has been the ABP and that is partially due to the fact that they have had a lot of directors since they opened. There seems to be some stability now although the department head is not very popular. Of course the worst offender for late notification has to be QP/Imtiaz/Griffith. Nobody can beat them!
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lollaerd



Joined: 03 Jul 2009
Posts: 337

PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2010 12:25 pm    Post subject: Re: QU Incidents Reply with quote

squirk wrote:
As a newbie in the English department, I am very worried about a strange practice called the Faculty Incidence Report system (FIR).


The only incident reports I've ever heard of are either technical incident reports, equipment incident reports, or accident incident reports. A few years ago, when I was still at QP, about 4 or 5 contract teachers who had been fired from QU turned up. I got pretty friendly with one of them who said that the renewal system at QU was very unfair and discriminatory. These teachers were all very angry and very bitter as they felt they had been unfairly fired. The guy I got to know seemed pretty intelligent and used a lot of innovative ideas in teaching. He was never really told why he was fired even though he asked; he said they didn't want to tell him. He also talked about the crime/punishment mentality that was pervasive; he personally felt the head actually enjoyed watching people and making reports on them and recounted a couple of 'incidents' when he had been 'spied on' to use his expression.

It seems like this FIR system is a continuation of that way of thinking. I remember the teacher (and his friends corroborated this) telling me the man in charge was really into 'punishment' for small sins. I suppose this man thinks 'punishment' is the best way to manage his teachers. However as all good and effective teachers know, punishment doesn't work, just ike it doesn't work with students. People don't like threats or the idea of threats; it just makes everyone resentful and angry. I agree it is a very 'dumb' way to run things. The work environment and atmosphere must be very paranoid if people have to worry about these FIR documents going into their file and being used as an excuse to fire them.

At least, we didn't have anything quite like this at QP and I have never worked in a place that did. If the system says it has a verbal warning stage, then it seems strange that they don't bother to use it. If you want to solve a problem, first you tell someone there is a problem. If it doesn't get solved then maybe you take it a step further. None of the former QU teachers had anything good to say about the place although they did claim it was way better under some Sudanese guy. A lot of QP people laughed when they heard that because at QP the Sudanese are not known as the best administrators. But then again, it's likely that the QP system broke them down too.

It seems like this FRI business is just another example of pen-pushing, form-filling, document-filing management style that so many people seem to use and even enjoy. (What a way to get your thrills!!) In my opinion, this type of thing is nothing more than a feeble excuse for lack of real management skills. These types of people just love to file documents because it makes them look like they are busy. But are they really? And busy doing what? I have a management position now and I certainly deal with my people on a one-to-one basis, we iron out our problems and try to resolve issues and problems like civil responsible adults; I don't treat my staff as children and they aren't afraid of me. The system is called MR - mutal respect. I don't write reports and file them away to use them as a threat or as punishment. This kind of approach is counter-productive as any management trainer will tell you.
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 16121
Location: USA

PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2010 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Written reports of problems like this is standard in US universities, so I expect that most of those establishments out in University City have a similar type of thing. Whether there is an official form with a special name is rather moot - it could be a mere memo. As an employee, if my employer has a problem with me or something I did, I want to see it in writing and be able to write my side of the story... and I want it in my file, so that a new manager isn't depending on the departmental grapevine for the story a couple years later when contract renewal is coming up.

We are all familiar with the fellow(s) and all their various screen names who got 'not renewed' or whatever 5 or so years ago. They really do need to get over it. We've all known and worked with teachers who got the ax who could never understand why... but all the rest of us knew. Laughing Sometimes it is just a personality clash with a supervisor or a class, but that is why written reports are such a good idea. You can't then say that you didn't understand what you were doing that management didn't approve of...

I still stand by my opinion that December is more than fair for notification of renewal or non-renewal. At universities in Oman, the UAE and Kuwait, I got mine in January or February at best. It is rather unfair to compare notification time at QU with its EFL staff of well over 100 teachers to most of the small places out in university city which have a handful of EFL teachers. And those that whinged that it wasn't nice to tell you near Christmas would have whinged at how late it was if they had waited until after the first of the year. Rolling Eyes

Here I was thinking that you were Wilbur... but you are starting to sound like the socks...

VS
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lollaerd



Joined: 03 Jul 2009
Posts: 337

PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2010 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

veiledsentiments wrote:
Written reports of problems like this is standard in US universities, so I expect that most of those establishments out in University City have a similar type of thing. Whether there is an official form with a special name is rather moot - it could be a mere memo. As an employee, if my employer has a problem with me or something I did, I want to see it in writing and be able to write my side of the story... and I want it in my file, so that a new manager isn't depending on the departmental grapevine for the story a couple years later when contract renewal is coming up. VS


You've raised some good points. My point is whether filing one of these FIR things is necessary for a trivial incident. I still think that there should be a one-to-one talk before anything gets put in writing. If the system calls for a verbal warning first, then the system should be followed. If the incident is more serious, then just maybe a report is warranted. The poster didn't mention what the incident was about but it seems as though he thinks it is trivial and is ticked off about it. I've never met the person he refered to but anyone who has worked at QP knows those former QU teachers who joined IMTIAZ a few years ago were steaming about what had happened to them. You can kind of dismiss one person's comments - but four teachers??? And they all said the same thing. Another QU guy turned up later after I'd left. He likes his tipple and has said some pretty dark remarks about the department and its system. The one guy I personally knew left the country years ago, long before these issues arose. He used to feel sorry for us QP sloggers. I feel sorry for the QP sloggers. Nobody has been as badly treated as they have been.

If you are referring to Education City, all of the universities there follow standard administration practices used in their parent university in the US. All staff are treated the same, there are no special rules for English teachers. The ABP is an exception to this and have their own system as they do not have a parent institution sponsoring them.

On another note, Wilber is busily doing his MA in Linguistics in California and is still sore about what happened last summer at QP. It will take him some time to get over it. I sort of took over his byline (having been a freelancer for one of the local rags until they stopped using freelancers -budget constraints they said).
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millie18



Joined: 23 Oct 2007
Posts: 183

PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2010 5:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

But aren't most of the teaching faculty at the US universities from the home campus? So it's not really a matter of a contract renewal, especially if these people have tenure.

They also have recourse to a grievance procedure (and labour laws) in the US should they have a dispute, or am I misinformed on that?

Very different from being employed on a 2 or 3 year contract subject to the whim and whimsey of sometimes unpredictable management (not necessarily at QU - but I've seen it happen in Oman and UAE)

As for notification - I was surprised when I was told I was renewed before December - I've always been told in late January/early February in the past as have friends working at other tertiary institutions in the GCC.
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 16121
Location: USA

PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2010 1:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

At least QU has a procedure at all... many places don't have anything until suddenly you're told that you are not being renewed. As Millie says... these are short term jobs. If one doesn't like a system or a manager, one can always move on. QU is no different from all the rest of the universities in the Gulf. Everyone can find something to complain about. Laughing And everyone who was not renewed insists that it isn't their fault. Human nature... sometimes they are right, but more often not.

And you are talking about 3-4 teachers out of a faculty of between 100-130 or something like that? Now if it were 30 teachers fired, it would look a bit more like an issue.

VS
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squirk



Joined: 03 Dec 2009
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2010 7:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is ludicrous to file a FIR for a petty incident could be handled in a more constructive way. Nobody has spoken positively about these reports. Itís demeaning and demoralizing a couple of months into a new job to be given one of these. This is nothing more than an example of micromanagement at its worst. Back in November we had to have a little visit with the chief to give a Ďgeneral progress report on how weíve been coping so farí. For some, these meetings were useful, for others they were picky, intrusive and a waste of time. He wanted feedback about the mentors, if you didnít get on with yours what are you supposed to say? Complain? They seem to encourage people to complaints about other teachers, this FIR is proof of this, but definitely donít complain about the workload, the syllabus, the courses, the committee work, etc. They donít want to hear that: it is very risky to say anything negative about the program. You get labeled as a complainer. Some newbies felt that the main point of the progress report meetings was basically to suss out critics; newbies picked up on this message very early on. About 11 or 12 teachers are leaving, some of them were fired; others are calling it a day. I suppose they donít want to deal with the Ďsystemí anymore. Maybe the FIR has made them mad.

Another crazy thing is teachers have to give 8 months notice. There are some very dissatisfied people who arenít sure about staying but this 8 months notice is very restrictive. How can you decide if you like the department in one semester? You barely arrive in a new job and within a few months are told if you want to quit, you have to give notice the first Sunday in January. I have never heard of a place that asks for 8 months notice, the usual notice period in most places is from 2 Ė 6 months. Most places donít even recruit until January or February so you are taking a risk to quit so early before recruitment. Four months is not enough for a newbie to know whether or not he wants to stay. Some newbies are leaving; others were thinking about going but the forced early notice made people think twice. If you resign after this date, you will be penalized financially. I think most people want to make the best of the job but when you are dumped on with work from the day one without being given enough time to get your bearings and adapt, it makes for a very difficult transition to Qatar and QU.. Things arenít helped by the daily traffic battle and the problems in the compound. There have even been break-ins so some people want bars on the windows. Who wants to live in a jail? Some people live in much better accommodation close to the campus; living in one of these places would sure make life easier for everyone.
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 16121
Location: USA

PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2010 11:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

squirk wrote:
Another crazy thing is teachers have to give 8 months notice. There are some very dissatisfied people who arenít sure about staying but this 8 months notice is very restrictive. How can you decide if you like the department in one semester? You barely arrive in a new job and within a few months are told if you want to quit, you have to give notice the first Sunday in January.

So... it is rude of them to inform you that if you are not happy right now, this is when you have to give notice? I expect it is also written in your contract. I'd say it is rather considerate of them.
squirk wrote:
I have never heard of a place that asks for 8 months notice, the usual notice period in most places is from 2 Ė 6 months.

It appears that you are not a good fit for Middle Eastern universities since you wish to re-write all the rules to your opinion of how things should be run. Perhaps you should start your own university. For now, you read your contract and follow the rules. The contract lets you know what the time limits are. I've worked for universities in Egypt, Kuwait, the UAE, and Oman. The minimum notice has been 6 months and the usual is one full semester notice.

That is the system... take it or leave...

VS
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helenl



Joined: 04 Jan 2006
Posts: 1185

PostPosted: Thu Jan 07, 2010 4:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

One question, in your contract isn't there a probationary period? Usually it's one academic year - during which either party can decide to terminate with/without cause (in other words, without having to provide any reason).

I know people in UAE who have told their supervisors that the organization "failed probation" and that they wouldn't be staying on for the rest of the contract.

I do know that giving at least one semester's notice is standard operating procedure in the GCC in academia - no matter if you're new or not. I would imagine QU is the same? What does the contract say?
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 16121
Location: USA

PostPosted: Thu Jan 07, 2010 1:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A friend from QU sent me this:

All employees serve a six month probationary period (one year for academic
faculty) as specified in the employment contract. During this period of
probation, either party may terminate the contract with 7 calendar days notice.

The Department Director or Head of Section ĖIn special cases- may
recommend the extension of probation period for a maximum of three or six
months. (QU Personnel Handbook)


VS
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squirk



Joined: 03 Dec 2009
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2010 8:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One week to make a decision about the next three years of your life? They let you know around Christmas and one week later you have to tell them if you want to stay or not. That's really putting the pressure on. You keep people worried all year wondering if they're going to be renewed so that they are in a state of constant anxiety Ė will he, won't he? FIR, evaluation, assessment, student evaluations, squealer reports, grievance reports; it seems to be pretty nonstop monitoring. This is why there is such an oppressive atmosphere of fear, not to mention some very scrofulous people who enjoy squealing. People are not happy with this FIR system; the constant monitoring creates a very unhappy workplace. There are loads of nice people but a few militants make the atmosphere toxic.

Crime and punishment; judge and jury (or maybe just the judge) is the way things seem to function ...

The incident report exists as a managerial and administrative tool to record situations that may come about unexpectedly. (Most situations in life come about unexpectedly, you don't know if you're going to get swatted on one of these crazy roundabouts.) The form will act as an official document that may help (may???) to dispel accounts based on hearsay or anecdotal evidence. For example, an incident may be unacceptable behavior from staff and/or students, (we need some examples of this) an act of vandalism or work related accident. (If it's an accident, it should be reported on an accident incident form.) The Incident Report Form (form?) will provide an official written record of an event (event? or incident?) and could be used as evidence to support any ensuing warning. The form may be used to describe an incident which may be useful in tracking (why do staff need to be tracked, isn't this just another word for stalking?) and/or addressing behavioral issues of and staff and/or students. (Some examples of staff behavioral issues, please.) While its findings (is this now an investigation???) may serve as evidence, (of the crime?) employing the incident report form (the form or the report itself??) would not necessarily lead to grievance procedures.

According to some teachers sometimes they don't even bother to tell you that they have filed a FIR. They say you 'should' be informed, not 'will be'. What if they don't tell you and the FIRs just pile up? There has to be a better way of dealing with 'incidents'. The Faculty Grievance form is no better as it gives people a chance to stab you in the back. This is definitely a very strange place. Luckily there are some very nice people working here which kind of compensates for the shady areas.
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
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Location: USA

PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can only hope that you have made the decision to leave. You obviously can't deal with the system and are starting to sound paranoid. Perhaps your home country might be the best choice for you.

It seems that you are only making yourself and probably everyone around you unhappy.

VS
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chanchanhae



Joined: 10 Jun 2009
Posts: 72
Location: Kenya

PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 5:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

QU stands for: Quit Urgently.

A place that has been run by the same man for over 20 years tells you all. Does it ring a bell?[/b]
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