Oxford critics round on Patten

October 28, 2005

Oxford University academics are circulating a letter that criticises their chancellor's unprecedented warning to Cambridge University about its future.

Chris Patten last week warned heads of Cambridge that unless they copied Oxford's radical plans to overhaul the way it is governed, their institution would not stay a world-class university.

Plans put forward by John Hood, Oxford's vice-chancellor, originally proposed a powerful board of trustees made up entirely of outsiders to control university finances and corporate planning. The plan has since been dropped in favour of a council of both internal and external members.

The proposed reforms aim to combat Oxford's chronic funding shortfall and modernise its governance structure.

Speaking at a meeting of Oxford alumni at London's Savoy Hotel last week, Lord Patten said Cambridge should follow Oxford's governance proposals.

But Oxford academics have criticised the governance plans and Lord Patten's attack on Cambridge. They intend to publish a letter explaining why.

Nicholas Bamforth, an Oxford law professor, said: "Criticism of the governance plans is gaining momentum. Thousands of Oxford academics are against John Hood's reforms and Lord Patten's criticism of Cambridge.

"Cambridge quite rightly rejected these sorts of governance reforms when they were mooted a couple of years ago."

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