Lecturers appeal to HRM

March 19, 2004

Swansea University academics are hoping to win support from the Queen in their fight to save departments from closure.

Local representatives of the Association of University Teachers have petitioned the Privy Council, which represents the Queen, arguing that any decision to close departments, as part of a planned restructuring exercise, would be tainted.

University visitors, who enjoy a quasi-judicial role over university governance and procedures, could call the university to account.

Academics say that a special meeting of the university's governing council, held for lay members on March 3, was improper as no union members were invited.

The restructuring process has therefore been tainted, the AUT claims.

The petition says: "Whatever the intention in not inviting us to the meeting, the clear effect of our exclusion was to deprive the other members of council of the opportunity to hear the points of view of those who disagree with the vice-chancellor."

Academics and students are united in their opposition to the proposal by Richard Davies, the vice-chancellor, to phase out chemistry, philosophy, sociology, anthropology and development studies.

The university's senate last week backed plans to phase out all of the areas targeted for closure bar the chemistry department.

The decision now rests with the council, which will meet to consider the proposals on Monday.

It is likely to approve the plans, including closures, as it voted to support them in principle on January 26.

Professor Davies said all staff and students were invited to meetings with presentations identical to that given to council lay members.

"Lay members of the council were given that briefing because several of them had approached us to say they did not have as much information on the proposals as staff," he said.

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