Letter: Who's in charge around here? 1

November 16, 2001

It is a pity that Rebecca Boden (Letters, THES , November 9) did not check my views with the paper I gave at the Universities UK/Society for Research in Higher Education conference rather than base her comments on a report of my remarks ("Call for 'shared governance'", THES , November 2).

In the paper, I said governance tended to be assumed to refer to what governing bodies do, although the constitutions of both pre and post-1992 universities provide for bicameral governance.

I suggested that the balance of lay and academic power had fluctuated over the past century. Since 1985, the balance has shifted, with government encouragement, towards a greater role for governing bodies, made explicit in the constitution of the post-1992 universities. But as universities' academic and financial success depends on the energy and commitment of the academic community, its role in governance should be reasserted. I suggested the importance of shared governance between lay people and academics.

Boden implies that as secretary of the Committee of University Chairmen I was somehow predisposed against academic involvement in governance. On the contrary. The CUC resisted the more prescriptive approaches to governance proposed in the Dearing report and has always emphasised the constitutional balance between governing bodies and senates/academic boards.

Michael Shattock
Institute of Education, London

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