LJMU defends itself

July 30, 1999

I was appalled by your attack on Liverpool John Moores University and its vice-chancellor ("Top dogs pass on pain of job cuts", THES, July 23), particularly as it appeared during our degree ceremony week. The university was given, unreasonably, just five hours to reply, in detail, to some 25 questions on a day when about 1,200 students were graduating.

Graduation is perhaps the most vivid reminder of what all in the sector are striving to achieve. The ceremonies highlight how important it is that universities like LJMU continue to provide high-quality educational opportunities tied to access policies that are inclusive of those who have the ability and the potential but might otherwise be overlooked.

While the "new" universities do not share the resources or history of older institutions, they are a vital part of the higher education regime. They are forging a necessary, exciting and vitally important new tradition and there are many areas in which LJMU can claim a place at the "top" of a league of new universities.

Your report unfairly attacked our teaching and research. We have achieved a good level of teaching quality assessment grades in the 13 reviews so far undertaken and, despite your assertion that we have ruled out research excellence, we nevertheless have two grade 5 research groups, one grade 4 (the only new university to attain such grades) and a further 11 units that gained grade 3 in the last research assessment exercise.

Other elements of the story caused consternation. Management reshuffles for efficiency gains are a common occurrence in most large organisations and LJMU's financial situation is not unique in the sector. The point is that management, governors and staff continue to address, in a balanced, informed and responsible manner, all the operational issues of the institution.

The university's commitment to a policy of transparency is as strong as ever and we will continue to present clearly all key issues to staff and students, including information on our financial situation.

Your story amounts to an unwarranted and unbalanced attack on a new university, its staff and students, as well as its vice-chancellor, a dynamic leader who continues to have the full support of his board, trustees and the wider regional community.

Maureen Williams Deputy chair, board of governors, Liverpool John Moores University

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