The sad business school: From blueprint to spire

January 15, 1999

July 1996: Oxford University announces plans to start a business school and that its ethics committee has approved a Pounds 20 million donation towards it from entrepreneur Wafic Said (right).

October 1996: John Kay (far right) announces he will step down as chairman of consultancy London Economics to be director at Oxford's School of Management studies, soon to be the Said business school. The first intake of one-year MBA students begin their course in temporary accommodation at Radcliffe Infirmary.

November 1996: Congregation (the dons' parliament) votes 259-214 against the business school proposals because of concerns over the site, Said's business background and his level of control over the school. The result is met with silence. Oxford City Council also says it would have been likely to reject the scheme as a matter of planning principle. The plan is not entirely abandoned and a search for an alternative site begins. John Kay threatens to resign if the dons reject the plans again.

June 1997: A new site for the development emerges but planning permission is needed. Said approves the location but threatens to withdraw the funding if a decision is not reached by June 21. Dons vote 342-55 to accept the plans, just four days before Said's deadline.

July 1997: The plan's opponents call for a postal vote. Dons vote 1,280-237 in favour.

June 1998: Protesters try to halt the development. They paint the former London Midlands and Scottish station building in its original colours.

Their attempts are backed by the Green Party and Friends of the Earth.

December 1998: Oxford City Council grants planning permission.

October 2000: Predicted opening of the Pounds 25 million building with 200 MBA students and, later, a possible 500 business studies undergraduates.

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