Portsmouth's model bid

July 5, 1996

A new report recommends radical changes in the governance of Portsmouth University following the turmoil caused by vice chancellor Neil Merritt's resignation two years ago. It may provide a model for other new universities.

A spokesman for the university says that there has already been significant interest in the report from the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals and other former polytechnics.

The university's working party on governance recommends setting up a governors' court to hear the concerns of governors over board decisions; the affirmation of the Nolan committee's seven principles of public life; increased staff and student involvement on governors' committees and changes to the appointment rules for external governors, the chair and deputy chair.

The working party was set up following Mr Merritt's resignation over expenses irregularities after a formal warning from the board of governors. A governors' audit committee report was also produced but access was restricted and this led to union complaints of secrecy and calls for the resignation of governors' chairman Stuart Waring.

The working party, chaired by Caroline Williams, Mr Waring's successor, said that the rapid transition from polytechnic to university status had left the university lacking an institutional structure.

The report says: "We are not able to change the statutory framework but we are able to develop our own ways of working, and to evolve procedures and structures which suit the University of Portsmouth and help it to develop further in the face of a number of difficult years for the whole of higher education."

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