London looks at roads to reform

March 10, 2006

A group of senior academics is to consider whether the role of vice-chancellor at the University of London would be better served by the heads of its colleges filling the post in rotation in place of the existing fixed-term arrangement, writes Jessica Shepherd.

Members of the group will look at how to reform the federation to guarantee its long-term future. Details of how a rotation system might work are still to emerge.

The group includes Malcolm Grant, the provost of University College London, and Rick Trainor, principal of King's College London. Both have been critics of the federation's bureaucracy.

Geoffrey Crossick, warden of Goldsmiths College, and Quintin McKellar, principal of the Royal Veterinary College, are also on the Constitutional Review Working Group. The acting president of the University of London Student Union, the dean of the School of Advanced Studies and three lay members will also attend meetings.

The group will consider ways to make the federation more cost-effective and how to hand more power to its 19 heads of colleges.

Professor Crossick said: "Everybody knows that the University of London needs reform. The vision that most of us have is that heads of colleges should play a larger role in its governance."

Sir Graeme Davies, whose term as vice-chancellor expires in 2007, commented that the idea of a rotation had been tried and abandoned at Oxford and Cambridge universities.

The working group is supported by heads of colleges within the federation, including Stephen Hill, principal of Royal Holloway.

Professor Hill said: "Sir Graeme Davies is committed to appraising the way the University of London operates and opened the discussion last year with his university-wide consultation. The working group will review the governance and management, and any recommendations will be considered seriously."

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