Fighting fund banner


UCU says resignations needed now to end uncertainty at London Met

17 December 2009

Union questions logic of heavily-criticised and discredited board members remaining in post for months.

UCU said plans for a major shake up at the top of London Metropolitan University (LMU) needed to happen now rather than months down the line. Chair of the board of governors, Peter Anwyl, announced in a statement issued jointly with the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) this morning that he, and all the governors who were on the heavily-criticised audit committee, would be standing down.

The union said the departures of those responsible for bringing the university to its knees was to be welcomed and was a great victory for the union, staff and students. However, it said it failed to understand the logic behind keeping people who had been so brutally exposed as responsible for the institution's inadequate governance in post at all.

Anwyl will remain in post until the end of March 2010 and the others until the end of August 2010. UCU pointed out that it was pressure from the union over a period of months that forced the original inquiries that unearthed the failings at the institution. Those reports vindicated the union's concerns over who was responsible for the university's perilous position and UCU said today it was unacceptable for delaying the departures.

UCU said the departures, coupled with the arrival of new vice-chancellor, Professor Malcolm Gillies in January, should have been the perfect opportunity for a fresh start. It said the protracted departures were the equivalent of hacking away with a blunt axe, when one swift blow with the guillotine would do the trick.

A report in November, from Sir David Melville CBE, made it clear that senior figures had knowledge of incorrect data regarding student numbers at the institution as early as 2004. The report also cited the failings of the board of governors to properly scrutinise and challenge the then vice-chancellor, Brian Roper.

UCU added that, as well as the governors, it believed all those identified in the damning Melville report should take collective responsibility for the failings and act accordingly. The union said it was looking forward to working with the new vice-chancellor in January and hoped he would look at the findings of the report again.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'It is quite clear that there is no credible way that those responsible for the failings can remain in post and these delays are just doing further harm to the institution. Those responsible must go immediately as their continued presence on the board does nothing to lend any credibility to the institution. We need one quick blow from a guillotine, not numerous hacks from a blunt axe.

'There is no point in having discredited people who have been so brutally exposed by the damning reports still on the board. The new vice-chancellor starts in January and he should be given every chance to help get the university back on its feet – starting with a board the sector can have confidence in.

'What has happened at London Met must act as a wake up call to all universities and their governing bodies. We need proper independent governance of our universities not dignitaries dependent on the patronage of the vice-chancellor for their place.'

Protestors at Tuesday's board meeting braved temperatures barely above freezing and an hour's delay to the meeting to make their feelings known. Staff and students protested from 3.45pm. The meeting was due to start at 4pm but was put back an hour in the afternoon.

Last updated: 11 December 2015