Release of expansion plans irks governor

November 25, 2005

Swansea University's vice-chancellor has received a stinging rebuke from one of his governors for publicising the findings of a report on the institution's expansion plans before they had been seen by the university's governing council.

Swansea staff were taken by surprise when The Times Higher reported last week that the university was considering moving to the neighbouring town of Llanelli as one of three options for expansion presented by consultants Actium Consult.

Peter Black, who chairs the Welsh Assembly's education committee and is a member of Swansea's council and governing body, this week condemned the decision by vice-chancellor Richard Davies to publicise the report, arguing that he had not followed university procedures.

He said: "There has been so much kite-flying over this, yet, as a governor of the university, I have not even seen this report or had a chance to discuss it with other governors.

"I would suggest it is the vice-chancellor's duty to keep his university council informed of such things.

"There are certain university procedures, and they have not been followed in this case. It is getting to the point where I am beginning to wonder what is going on at the university."

Professor Davies hit back, arguing that Mr Black's complaints were coloured by his role as a member of the local city council, which may be called upon to give permission for any expansion beyond the university's present boundaries.

He made no apologies, saying that university business would be for ever held up if it had to wait for approval from governors, who meet only four times a year.

"The report deals with matters that the governing body are fully aware of, and that are in the strategic plan they have approved," he added.

The vice-chancellor has said that his preferred option for future expansion is to stay put and redevelop the existing campus.

The vice-chancellor's move also drew fire from academic union leaders.

Mike Cohen, vice-president of Swansea Association of University Teachers, said: "The vice-chancellor has not even discussed the need for expansion, he has just presented it as an obvious truth."

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