College reforms will increase risk of mismanagement and make corruption easier

26 October 2011 | last updated: 11 December 2015

UCU today warned that last-minute government plans to remove the legal requirement for colleges to have staff and students on their governance boards would increase the risk of mismanagement and corruption in further education.

The union said the reforms, which will be debated in the House of Lords next Tuesday, could stop staff and students acting as whistleblowers in cases of bad governance, such as at Barnsley College, where the principal and a colleague siphoned off £1m of public money.
 
UCU said without the statutory obligation of staff and students on the board colleges would be less accountable, which is particularly troublesome as further education faces huge funding challenges and staff and student input will be vital. The union added that a voluntary code would be ineffective.
 
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'These changes, if voted through, will increase the risk of mismanagement and corruption at colleges and make institutions less answerable to the public. Staff and students play a vital role in ensuring transparency and accountability and in highlighting bad governance when it arises. A voluntary code, as has been shown in numerous other industries, is simply not good enough.
 
'With the sector facing huge funding challenges it seems perverse to be pushing these changes through. Colleges benefit massively from the input of the people working at the coalface day in day out and should not just be able to remove dissenting voices.'


UPDATE: The government has agreed to withdraw plans that would have removed the statutory obligation for colleges to have staff and students on their governance boards. Ministers had planned to push the last-minute reforms through the House of Lords but announced on 26 October that they were dropping the proposals following pressure from UCU, UNISON and the Nation Union of Students. The changes would have increased the risk of mismanagement and corruption at colleges and made institutions less answerable to the public.

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