Dons fear for self-government after vote

March 16, 2001

Cambridge dons fear that university self-government is being eroded after a battle over the university's bar, restaurant and conference facilities.

The removal of academics from the management of the university centre was approved this week. In a ballot, 404 dons opposed the reforms as an unwelcome move towards managerialism, but 505 voted in favour.

The reforms, which were recommended after a management review by the university centre syndicate last year, include the dissolution of the syndicate and the academic-led management committee, which the syndicate said "did not produce a commensurately high level of added value". Power would be transferred to university officers, with the university registrary taking responsibility and a general manager reporting to him.

In a senate house discussion, management committee member John Dougherty said Cambridge's "self-governing community of scholars" used a system of academic-led syndicates, boards and committees because "we prefer it to autocracy".

The governing council said its proposals did not herald an erosion of its autonomy. The general manager would still be accountable to the council, which is made up of elected academics.

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