Thursday, 5 February 2009

Independent: "University on the ropes: Is it the beginning of the end for London Met?"

From The Independent:

By Lucy Hodges

Thursday, 5 February 2009

A dispute that, according to MPs, threatens the very survival of London Metropolitan University, the capital's biggest higher education institution, is spilling over on to London's streets. Last week lorry drivers on Holloway Road in Islington watched as a group of students and staff picketed a meeting of London Met's governors.

"Save our Staff" and "London Met on the Roper", a reference to the university's vice-chancellor, Professor Brian Roper, screamed the banners.

The university, which has 34,000 students, has long attracted controversy for the militancy of its staff and students, but the latest row is a more serious matter. This crisis is over an attempt by the Higher Education Funding Council to claw back more than £50m of money that London Met should not have received. It is believed that as many as 500 jobs could go as a result of the university having been overpaid for student dropouts since 2005, and the unions are furious, claiming at the same time that the university is being unfairly treated by Hefce but that neither the managers nor the governors have explored the alternatives to redundancy.

"The University and College Union are very concerned that the Hefce regulations appear to discriminate against widening participation," said a UCU spokesperson. "But we also feel very strongly about the fact that the management are not consulting the unions as they are required to do in law and that they have not considered alternatives like a freeze on new appointments."

Professor Brian Roper, who runs London Met was not available for comment. But Beth Elgood, director of marketing and communications, would not confirm any of the figures concerning the amount of money that Hefce wanted to claw back or the number of redundancies the university was considering. Talks were still going on with Hefce, she emphasized. "We have not agreed or specified a number of job cuts yet," she said.

Brian Roper not available for comment? Sounds all too familiar... we've quite a few unanswered questions ourselves.

Read the entire Indy article here:

Is this 'the beginning of the end'? We certainly think so if they go ahead with these cuts and refuse to negotiate with our staff's elected representatives...

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