Regional voices 1

March 28, 2003

My university is attempting to put into practice the very brand of governance Steven Schwartz advocates (Soapbox, THES , March 7). A small management group consisting of the vice-chancellor, pro vice-chancellors and chair of council has decided that the long-standing and much-praised department of education must be shifted almost in its entirety to a nearby non-university institution.

The staff will no longer be university teachers nor have the same facilities to pursue their research. Management trumpets this as a positive and ambitious venture that will meet the demands for reconfiguration and collaboration made by the Welsh Assembly.

The trouble is no one told the staff. The decision was made behind closed doors by managers who, in Schwartz's words, "must have the power to make decisions and then be held accountable for the results".

What are the results? Total demoralisation of staff, moves to other institutions by valuable teachers and researchers, bad publicity for the institution, and even the Welsh Assembly is distancing itself from the management actions. The results are so bad, in fact, that the management is being forced to rethink its decision, but not before much has been lost. As for the decision makers being "held accountable for the results", does anyone think this will really happen?

Howard Moss
School of European Languages
University of Wales Swansea

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