Controls not control

June 18, 1999

I was surprised at the prominence given to Public Accounts Committee/National Audit Office pressure for more control over higher education institutions without a further exploration of the potential dangers of such a trend (Analysis, THES, June 11).

Institutions must be accountable for the public money they receive. But the relatively small number of recent failings in effective governance and/or management in certain institutions does not suggest a wholesale increase in regulation and control is required. Such events are embarrassing to the sector and will rightly lead all of us to review performance and procedures. But in the context of the multi-billion pound sector, they should be regarded as serious failings that nevertheless amount only to a tiny fraction of activities.

The imposition of prescriptive and detailed regulations would gradually create a uniformity of process and thinking. Such regulation would never totally eradicate the possibility of incompetent or dishonest actions by managers. It would, however, run the risk of damaging the institutional diversity and freedom to initiate and experiment that underpins the most successful aspects of higher education.

John Lauwerys Secretary and registrar University of Southampton

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver

Creator of controversial predatory journals blacklist says some peers are failing to warn of dangers of disreputable publishers

Kayaker and jet skiiers

Nazima Kadir’s social circle reveals a range of alternative careers for would-be scholars, and often with better rewards than academia

hole in ground

‘Drastic action’ required to fix multibillion-pound shortfall in Universities Superannuation Scheme, expert warns