HEFCE clears Anglia

July 17, 1998

THE Higher Education Funding Council for England has ruled that managers at Anglia Polytechnic University did not try to cover-up allegations of nepotism, bullying and mismanagement at the business school, writes Phil Baty.

HEFCE did not investigate the actual allegations, but after an audit of the procedures at APU, it has said that it is "satisfied" that APU management investigated the allegations in a "proper and effective manner". "Our overall conclusion is that we are satisfied with the action taken," the council said.

But HEFCE warned that "the investigation did uncover some systems weaknesses which, although they did not affect the specific nature of the complaints, needed to be addressed."

The university has initiated action to address the issues, and will be revisited by HEFCE auditors "to ensure that recommendations have been properly implemented." HEFCE also concluded that the whistleblower, John Watts, who had been accused of a vendetta, acted in "good faith".

One member of staff this week said that HEFCE's conclusions raised serious questions about the lack of external accountability in universities. "HEFCE has not investigated the allegations," he said. "All they have done is ticked the right boxes and checked the procedures were in place."

A HEFCE spokesman said: "Institutions are independent bodies and we do not unnecessarily interfere in their operation. The main point is to ensure proper systems are in place and that they are followed."

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