Oxford needs central shake-up, says North

January 30, 1998

OXFORD University should become a more open and flexible institution, better able to resist outside pressures, according to a report into the university's structure, published today.

The commission of inquiry, chaired by former vice-chancellor Sir Peter North, says the university should remain collegiate, keep tutorials and continue to be dependent on public as well as private money. But it recommends a shake-up of the central administration, with three new academic boards and a longer period of office for the vice-chancellor.

It calls for a review of published college accounts to stop the "unhealthy mystique" about the way colleges use their resources.

And it stresses teaching, recommending annual assessments and emphasis on broader skills for students as well as a new committee to promote access.

The report, which cost Pounds 280,000 and took nearly four years to produce, contains 93 recommendations - the same number as Lord Dearing's committee of inquiry into of higher education - and is supported by 600 pages of data and background information.

Sir Peter said: "What is now necessary is an open and probably vigorous debate on what the way forward should be. I have no doubt the issues to which we have tried to find solutions are real and have to be addressed."

Oxford vice-chancellor Colin Lucas said: "The commission has stimulated further new thinking on a variety of fronts, and I welcome this and pay tribute to the hard work put into this inquiry."

* Details, pages 6-7; leader, page 13

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