Hefce's proposal to "require the governing body to take steps to rectify the position" if it considers that the "accountable officer cannot be relied upon" could indeed lead to the enforced removal of vice-chancellors ("Funding council seeks powers to eject vice-chancellors", 21 January). On the face of it, that would intrude on institutional autonomy, but this is a financial not an academic sanction. Academic autonomy will not be threatened.
More worrying, surely, are the indications that governors (including vice-chancellors) are making academic redundancies and cuts to courses driven solely by the need to save money, with scant regard to the consequences for academic performance. They can do that and comply fully with the financial memorandum. Hefce won't remove vice-chancellors for academic destructiveness: this makes it more important than ever for institutions to protect the academic integrity of their governors' decision-making.
G.R. Evans, Emeritus professor of medieval theology and intellectual history, University of Cambridge.
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