Rector attacks new university criteria

November 7, 2003

The rector of the London Institute has criticised proposed new criteria for awarding university status, shortly after winning the status for his institution under the old criteria.

The institute, which was awarded university status in July, has applied to the Privy Council to be called the University of the Arts, London. It will learn whether the name has been approved next month.

London Institute rector Sir Michael Bichard said that he was proud it had gained university status under the current criteria rather than under the proposals to award the university title to teaching-only institutions.

He said: "I have some reservations about the proposals to give teaching-only institutions university status. The difficulty is that, having got university status now, to be suggesting that we are not in favour of the proposals is not helping others to follow us.

"But it is not helpful to have a small group of universities that are perpetually on probation - university status could be withdrawn if they fail an audit - and that makes them second-class citizens and it damages the UK brand. It's not fair on them and it's not fair on universities in general."

The proposed new moniker risks confusion with Goldsmiths College, London - which calls itself "the UK's leading creative university". However, Goldsmiths does not plan to object to the Privy Council.

A spokesman for Goldsmiths said that the college supported the London Institute's plans.

Goldsmiths is by far the older institution: it was founded in 1891 and has been part of the University of London since 1904. But it is smaller, with 280 staff and 7,300 students in higher education compared with the London Institute's 400 staff and 10,000 higher education students. The London Institute also has several thousand students in further education.

The London Institute comprises five colleges: the London College of Printing; the Camberwell College of Arts; the London College of Fashion; the Chelsea College of Art and Design; and the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. The LCP will be renamed the London College of Communications at the end of the month.

The new university has 20 campuses across the capital but aims, in the long term, to concentrate on five main sites.

The new name will be launched in the spring with a formal ceremony, a party in the Tate Modern's turbine hall and college open days.

History of London Institute

The London Institute is formed by bringing together the work of four art schools and three specialist colleges.

The institute is incorporated as a higher education institution.

The institute is granted degree-awarding powers by the Privy Council.

The institute boasts 10,000 higher education students. Some 89 per cent are undergraduates, 10 per cent taught postgraduates and the remainder conduct research.

The institute entered more than a third of its 400 staff for the research assessment exercise. They gain a grade 5 - denoting international excellence - in up to half their work in the art and design unit of assessment.


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