2

When I was reading an article, I came across this sentence:

"Service that should be provided on the coal face are centralised and staff and students left to manage on their own."

I wonder what is meant by "on the coal face" in this sentence.

Here is the full context:

Services that should be provided on the coal face are centralised and staff and students left to manage on their own. Four change management proposals to allegedly reduce costs, but no discussion with staff about strategies for saving money. Wasteful expenditure such as sponsoring a yacht, building a balcony for the Vice Chancellor to use for events, free t-shirt to new student and free accommodation fro international students are just some of reasons that UTAS is justiying job cuts.

3

Brian Hitchcock provided a simple answer in a comment. I am repeating and expanding it here simply so this question can hopefully be marked as 'answered' and disappear from the unanswered queue.

The idiom "[do something] at the coal face" (unusually expressed as "on the coal face" here) typically means to work at the "front end", "business end", "grassroots level", or "do the thing most central and essential for a job or business".

It comes from the metaphor of a coal miner working at the "coal face" underground. There may be many managers, clerical staff, cooks, lift operators and many other people who are important to making a coal mine work, but it is the people "at the coal face" who do the essential task required of a coal mine. They are the sine qua non of coal mining.

In your extract, my personal feeling is the metaphor is not particularly well used. But that's my subjective judgement. The overall meaning is:

Services which should be provided to students at a grassroots level have been centralised, leaving students cut off from them.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.