Leader: Mend and make new

October 13, 2006

Changes of governance, as both Oxford and Cambridge have demonstrated over recent years, often generate strong feelings in universities, however dry they may appear to the outside observer. But the proposals for a new structure at the top of the University of London not only look like encountering relatively modest opposition, but could help secure the future of a previously beleaguered institution.

The disintegration that many thought would follow last week's confirmation of the departure of Imperial College is no longer a clear or present danger for the federal university. The main reason is that the leading colleges have been so closely involved in drawing up the reforms that they are comfortable with radical proposals such as allowing a majority of outsiders among the university's trustees. In the long term, the survival of the university will depend on whether it represents value for money for its members, but the new structure will provide much-needed breathing space. The opportunities exist to turn a difficult period into one of increased strength.

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