Letter: Accountability doubts

November 10, 2000

The "Cameron report" clears Imperial College of victimisation of Peter Dawson for raising concerns in the public interest about protections of patient safety (Whistleblowers, THES , November 3). The "Filkin report" clears Bournemouth University of unacceptable treatment of disabled academic Robert Giddings (Whistleblowers, THES , October 6). In both there is acceptance that the conduct of the institution has left something to be desired but the threshold for finding against the institution or its senior officers seems to me so high that it is impossible to call anyone to account.

Administrative law in the UK is a weak instrument for ensuring accountability of universities. In any case, it is a waste of everyone's time and money for such matters to be dragged through the courts. Nor is it a good idea for them to be allowed to run on until there has to be a National Audit Office or Public Accounts Committee report.

Those entrusted with conducting internal inquiries and grievance procedures have to be tougher. The culture of letting off lightly those in charge of universities has to change. Otherwise the moves to create a higher education ombudsman will be a waste of time.

G. R. Evans
Cambridge

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