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    18 July, 2005

    No-confidence in Vice-Chancellor

    Lecturers at UWIC have delivered an overwhelming vote of no-confidence in their Vice-Chancellor, Tony Chapman, by 93% to 7%.

    Margaret Phelan, Natfhe regional official for Wales, has said:

    July is an awkward time for an academic union to ballot its members as many have started their annual leave. Therefore a 56% return rate on a postal ballot evidences the real frustration and anger felt by our membership.

    Elsewhere she is quoted as saying:

    Natfhe members at Uwic have overwhelmingly demonstrated that they have lost trust and confidence in the Uwic vice-chancellor as the person who provides strategic leadership and advice to the Board of Governors

    The lecturers are said to be reacting to the prospects for UWIC following the breakdown of the merger talks with the University of Glamorgan about a year or so ago and subsequent discussions on an alternative merger with Newport, which is clearly felt to be less opportune, and may not result in the same level of investment from government.

    After the failure of the previous merger discussions, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales appointed its auditors to look at the aborted merger. They concluded that one of the key issues was the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor of the new merged University:

    The UoG Chairman’s notes of that meeting indicate that the UWIC representatives proposed that the current Vice Chancellor of UoG would become the Vice Chancellor of New U for a year followed by the current Vice Chancellor of UWIC for a period of two or three years prior to proceeding to open competition for the post following this time-limited transitional period.

    In other words, the Uniglam V-C would get the top job for a year, followed by the UWIC V-C for a couple of years, then open competition. It was widely rumoured that this was acceptable to the then V-C of Uniglam, but not to the V-C of UWIC.

    The auditors concluded that:

    none of the issues identified should have been insurmountable

    They also said that failure to agree:

    will also undoubtedly have an adverse impact on staff morale within the two institutions.

    Well, amen to that. The lecturers clearly agree.

    After the auditors' report, I wrote to the Auditor-General for Wales about the issue, saying:

    The report raises serious issues in relation to the merger process,
    particularly in respect of UWIC as an institution.

    He responded, noting that it was 'very disappointing to say the least' that public money had been lost on an abortive merger, and saying he would keep these issues under review.

    I may return to this in due course.

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    Promoted by Leighton Andrews AM, National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff CF99 1NA.

    Author's editorial policy: This blog does not publish anonymous comments, unless they are really witty and I like them. If you have something to say, then have the courage of your convictions and use your name or an identifiable alias. Even then I reserve the right not to publish comments that are malicious, defamatory, stupid, pointlessly cynical or boring. Any of the statements or comments made above should be regarded as personal and not necessarily those of the National Assembly for Wales, any constituent part or connected body.