Sectarian discrimination fears hamper research recruitment

March 3, 2006

Ulster University must be more active in seeking out research stars, according to an external review chaired by Sir Graeme Davies, vice-chancellor of London University. It fears that UU may be too cautious of falling foul of the Province's fair employment laws, designed to combat sectarian discrimination.

The university's future depends on its success in recruiting academic high-flyers, the review warns. The unanimous report of the nine-member committee is UU's latest seven-year review. Ulster is the only UK university required by its charter to have regular external reviews.

Last year, an investigation found that vice-chancellor Gerry McKenna had a case to answer in response to allegations of being affected by alcohol at official meetings, lax financial controls and loss of senior staff confidence. Professor McKenna is expected to leave this week under a confidential agreement. The report does not refer to this directly, but a letter from Sir Graeme to Gerry Burns, chairman of UU's council, says: "The fact that we have relatively little to say about matters of governance reflects our conviction that in this respect, notwithstanding certain developments in the past year or so, the affairs of the university have been conducted properly and efficiently."

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