Caledonian probe

April 4, 1997

The National Audit Office and the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council have launched an inquiry into Glasgow Caledonian University following allegations of mismanagement.

John Sizer, chief executive of SHEFC, will carry out the investigation and the NAO will then decide whether it needs to report to Parliament.

Professor Sizer, as SHEFC's accounting officer, is responsible for ensuring that the university does not misuse public funds, and delivers value for money. The NAO, which has statutory inspection rights, is also concerned with institutional finance.

A SHEFC spokeswoman said GCU's governors and senior management were cooperating fully, and that Professor Sizer was keeping the NAO fully informed. "It would not be appropriate for the council to comment further while its investigations are underway," she said. "The investigation is at too early a stage to be able to say how long it will take."

An NAO spokeswoman refused to outline details of the allegations, stressing that at present they were unsubstantiated.

A university spokeswoman said: "These allegations have been made anonymously, and the university is not aware of the detail."

Staff who did not wish to be identified have told The THES that many academics are worried about the financial implications of the university's ambitious building programme. They fear current faculty restructuring plans will disrupt academic work, hampering the ability to raise external funds.

They also allege there is no financial or academic rationale for the reorganisation, and that they have been unable to discuss their concerns either with the principal, Stan Mason, or with the chair-man of the university court, Malcolm Campbell.

The local branch of the Educational Institute of Scotland's University Lecturers Association has already passed two motions of no confidence in senior management, and more than 220 staff attended a combined union meeting last week which unanimously called for talks with Professor Mason and Mr Campbell.

The university spokeswoman said this week that Mr Campbell had now met representatives of the combined union committee "in what all parties agreed was a very positive and productive meeting". But neither local nor national union officials would comment.

The spokeswoman said all staff would be invited to a series of open meetings in the next few weeks to discuss issues of general concern. Some institutions had been forced into difficult positions against the backdrop of significant cuts. But GCU was not affected in that way, and its restructuring was positive and proactive rather than reacting to external events, she said.

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