London Met head quits

V-c relinquishes role with immediate effect, Rebecca Attwood reports

March 19, 2009

The head of financially beleaguered London Metropolitan University has stepped down.

In a statement sent out today, the university said Brian Roper had decided to take up the opportunity of early retirement.

London Metropolitan University is sorry to announce that Brian Roper, vice-chancellor and chief executive, has decided to leave the university to take up the opportunity of early retirement and to pursue other interests,” Peter Anwyl, chair of the board of governors, said.

“Brian has made a significant contribution to the university, and, on behalf of the board of governors, the university would like to pay tribute to his energy and determination in delivering the university’s mission and to thank him for his support and efforts in his time here.

“Although Brian will not be leaving the university until the end of December 2009, he has stepped down from the role of vice-chancellor with immediate effect. London Metropolitan University will communicate details of Brian’s successor in due course. London Metropolitan University wishes Brian well in his future endeavours.”

As first reported in Times Higher Education in July 2008, the Higher Education Funding Council for England has reduced London Met’s grant for 2008-09 by £15 million after it discovered that the university had made incorrect data returns, which are believed to be related to its figures on students who drop out.

In January, it emerged that the funding council also planned a clawback of the money the university was overpaid between 2005 and 2008, which amounts to an additional £38 million.

In an email to staff on 19 February, Mr Roper proposed reducing numbers by up to 550 full-time equivalent posts by July 2010.

The University and College Union branch at London Met said this could mean as many as 700 – or one in four –employees losing their jobs, a move that “defies belief”.

rebecca.attwood@tsleducation.com

Update, 20 March:

London Met’s union branches have called on its managers to suspend the planned redundancies at the university.

A union spokesman said: “London Met UCU and London Met Unison note Brian Roper’s resignation as vice-chancellor of London Metropolitan University. However, we regret that no one has yet taken formal responsibility for the current financial difficulties of the university.

“Unison and UCU further note the intention to announce a successor as vice-chancellor.

We presume that any immediate appointment would be made on a temporary basis pending external advertisement.

“We hope that this will be the first step in a process towards creating a more collegial university environment, in which management and staff are able to engage in meaningful dialogue about the operation of the institution.

“We call, therefore, on London Met management to suspend all current proposals with regard to the finances of the university, including all threats of redundancies. We invite [it] to enter a process of genuine, collective discussion with staff and students in order to devise a recovery plan for London Met that has a real chance of success.

“Both unions look forward to engaging in constructive dialogue with Hefce and… representatives of the London Met board of governors concerning the future of the university and its mission.”

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