Melton confidence crisis

September 24, 1999

An overwhelming vote of no confidence in senior management at Melton Mowbray College has been cast by trade unions after revelations in Whistleblowers that the college has recruited suspected illegal immigrants.

Led by lecturers' union Natfhe, with the support of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, and public service union Unison, staff supported a vote of no confidence in principal Ken Masters by 120 votes to 25, with five abstentions. In a separate vote, client services manager Chris Eveling was backed by just 17 staff, while 130 indicated that he had lost their confidence.

In June this year, The THES reported that the college had been warned by immigration officials in Sri Lanka that its low-

entry requirements were attracting bogus students who were seeking illegitimate entry to Britain. Last week, Whistleblowers revealed that Mr Eveling had accepted course fees from one Sri Lankan student despite explicit warnings from the British High Commission in Sri Lanka that she was a suspected illegal immigrant who may have obtained her visa by deception.

In a statement this week, the joint unions said: "The ballot proved that an overwhelming majority of staff have no confidence in two members of senior management. The governors of the college have been made aware of this and we are looking to them to take appropriate action so that the college can meet the challenges that lie ahead."

Natfhe said staff were angry about "blocked channels of communication and a culture of blame", and that Whistleblowers' revelations were "the last straw".

Mr Masters and Mr Eveling were on sick leave this week and were unavailable for comment, and the acting chair of governors, John Machin, refused to comment. It is understood that the matter will be discussed at a board meeting next week.

The trade unions criticised Mr Machin for suggesting last week, before the ballot was complete, that a no-confidence vote could lead to the closure of the college. "The college is not about to close," said the joint union statement. "This year again, we have hundreds of full-time and thousands of part-time students. "

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