Thursday, 6 August 2009

Management of London Met acted 'blindly', audit says

Times Higher Education Supplement, 6 August 2009
By Melanie Newman

London Metropolitan University was "operating blindly", with key decisions being made by managers and governors in the absence of solid facts, according to an independent auditor's report into incorrect student-data returns at the institution.

The auditor's conclusions are disputed by London Met, which says its senior management team was fully aware of the facts and denies any suggestion of recklessness.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England commissioned BDO Stoy Hayward last year to review London Met's approach to student records after inaccuracies were discovered in its student-data completions.

The institution is repaying £36.5 million after Hefce found that its student non-completion rate was 30 per cent, rather than the 3 per cent or so it had reported. A further £15 million has also been held back from London Met's recurrent teaching funding.

The university admitted including in its data returns students who did not fit Hefce's definition of completion, but said that it had "deliberately and consciously applied a certain interpretation of (Hefce's) rules on (reporting student non-completions), which it had signalled to Hefce in advance of its application and had been encouraged by Hefce to pursue".

Hefce said it never approved the university's interpretation of its non-completion rules, and added that it raised problems with completions data during two audits.

BDO was asked to audit the university's data returns for 2006-07 and to assess the extent to which the findings of two Hefce audits for 2003-04 and 2004-05 had been acted upon. The BDO auditors, who reported in January this year, found that the university's processes for compiling, reviewing and authorising data returns were ineffective....

Read the full article here


  1. How can the very same people who got us into this mess see through their 'cost reduction plans' - ie comulsory redundancies? This University needs a completely new start. New management, new governors. There are two inquiries ongoing - one by HEFCE and one by David Melville. Why hasn't HEFCE published their report already? Until we see their reports and the BDO report mentioend above, they must stop the cuts - make management pay, not staff and students.

  2. Brian Roper

    London Met’s former vice-chancellor Brian Roper was suspended, and a disciplinary process covering his dismissal was started, according to
    correspondence published by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

    A letter from former Hefce chief executive David Eastwood to London Met’s secretary John McParland on 10 March said: “This is in reply to your email … of 9 March which confirms what [university governor] Sir Michael Snyder had told me personally and in confidence. The vice-chancellor has been suspended and a process commenced covering dismissal which will follow the company's Articles of Association.”

    Professor Eastwood, now vice chancellor of the University of Birmingham, added that an independent report commissioned by Hefce from auditors BDO into the data problems at London Met had confirmed his view that “there were leadership and management problems at the university that needed to be addressed”.

    Peter Anwyl, chair of the board of governors, wrote to Professor Eastwood on 19 March 2009 saying: “The Board met last night and approved the arrangements for the early retirement of the existing VC with immediate effect.”

    Mr Roper will remain on London Met’s payroll until the end of the year.

    To view detailed Hefce documents relating to this case, see:

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