News in brief

March 25, 2010

London Metropolitan University

Senior staff under investigation

London Metropolitan University is investigating two senior members of staff as well as its internal auditors following a fresh report into its recent financial woes. At a board meeting last week, the university's governors considered a report on the executive team's involvement in errors in student-completion data that led to a £36.5 million clawback by funding chiefs in 2009. The report by the law firm Eversheds advises that "additional investigations, including interviews and further document recovery" are needed with respect to the deputy vice-chancellor, Bob Aylett, and the finance director, Pam Nelson. Eversheds also recommends scrutiny of the role of Kingston City Group, which provided internal-management assurance services to the university.


Stellar lecturers up for 'Oscars'

Students' associations across Scotland are holding their own teaching awards for university staff. A joint pilot project by the Higher Education Academy and the National Union of Students Scotland is helping eight associations to hold their own teaching "Oscars". It follows the success of teaching awards organised by students at the University of Edinburgh last year, when 2,704 nominations were received for 621 staff. Alastair Robertson, head of policy and partnerships (Scotland) at the HEA, said: "It is great to see students doing something really positive to celebrate the excellent lecturers the Scottish sector is fortunate to have."

Student loans

Over budget and under-supervised

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Student Loans Company have been criticised by the public sector auditor after thousands of students were left to start term without their loans last autumn. In a report published on 19 March, the National Audit Office says that the service provided to new students in England who applied for finance for 2009-10 went over budget by £8 million, while average processing times rose by a third. The NAO report says that BIS "did not monitor the SLC effectively". BIS announced that it had commissioned consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers to carry out an "independent health check" to ensure that the SLC is on target for next year.


The "obscenely hard work" required in a module led by Wayne Martin, a professor in the University of Essex's department of philosophy, sparked lively debate online ( One reader, Joseph Lowman, writes: "I'm not surprised Professor Martin gets the results he does. But I'd have to ask at what price? Does he have a life in other ways? His comparison to ... elite athletics is apt, but when watching the Olympics, I couldn't help asking myself about the costs of such dedication."


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