Letters: Awaiting scandal?

November 23, 2001

John Hall's defence of governance structures in statutory corporations (Letters, THES , November 16) was addressed in the paper I gave at the recent Universities UK/ Society for Research in Higher Education seminar ("Call for 'shared governance", THES , November 2).

What his defence fails to answer is why the main governance problems have been confined almost exclusively to the statutory corporations.

The Higher and Further Education Act brought common governance mechanisms for higher and further education corporations.

In contrast with pre-1992 universities, there have been recurrent governance problems in statutory corporations in both higher and further education.

Widespread concern about governance problems in further education led to changes in the instrument and articles of government for the sector's corporations. These made significant changes to the composition of their governing bodies. The governance of higher education corporations is unreformed even to that extent.

Are fresh scandals needed to prompt reform rather than learning from history and comparable experiences for example those in Australia? ("Inquiry reports on 'crisis' in Oz", THES, October 19 and http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/EET_CTTE/public%20uni/report/index.htm )

Michael Knight
Head of accounting division
South Bank University

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