London Met governors asked to consider their position

Hefce puts officials on the spot after review finds them responsible for fiasco. Rebecca Attwood reports

November 23, 2009

University funding chiefs have called on governors at London Metropolitan University to “consider their position” after a review said they must take overall responsibility for the fact that the institution overclaimed millions of pounds in public funding.

In a letter sent to the university’s chairman of governors on Friday, the Higher Education Funding Council for England asked members of the governing body and senior staff to rethink their positions in light of the review’s findings.

As Times Higher Education revealed on Friday, the review by Sir David Melville, the former vice-chancellor of the University of Kent, concluded that the university’s board of governors and audit committee were accountable for the financial failure even though they had not been kept fully informed of the scale of the problems.

As a result of submitting inaccurate data about student dropouts to the funding council, the university has been forced to hand back £36.5 million overpaid to it by Hefce between 2005-06 and 2007-08.

London Met’s recurrent grant has also been reduced by £15 million, leaving it facing financial difficulties and putting hundreds of jobs at risk.

Sir David’s report said that Brian Roper, the former vice-chancellor of London Met, presided over a dictatorial management regime and must take “the major responsibility and culpability” for the catastrophe.

In a statement last week, London Met said Sir David’s report is coupled with an independent review carried out by Deloitte into the circumstances of Hefce’s clawback of funds.

The reports were presented to the board of governors on 18 November and are due to be published this week.

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