Southampton report hits an attitude problem

November 15, 1996

The author of an independent report on internal communications problems at Southampton Institute was told to strike out references to "attitudes" from his paper, it emerged this week.

Ian Pirie, vice chair of the institute's governors, said the instruction followed "confusion" over the terms of reference on which Geoffrey Hall, former director of Brighton Polytechnic, was commissioned to carry out the review.

Mr Pirie told The THES a report which was sent to governors by Professor Hall had "outlined something to do with attitudes" which had been judged to be outside his terms of reference.

Southampton Institute has been under scrutiny since a Higher Education Quality Council report criticised its overseas operations in June of this year. The institute ran a campus in Athens but this has since been closed. Professor Hall's final report is expected to be scrutinised by a special subcommittee of governors, chaired by Mr Pirie, in two weeks' time. The subcommittee will report on December 11.

Mr Pirie said a report from Professor Hall outlined problems to do with attitudes, and "the group had its terms of reference which deliberately did not include the term "attitude". Mr Pirie said the confusion had been sorted out.

The report was commissioned after a secret ballot of staff called for the resignation of David Leyland, the director. Governors appointed Professor Hall after they passed a vote of confidence in Professor Leyland.

Professor Hall's brief was to establish whether there was an effective internal communications system; whether the management structure was conducive to good communications; what were management objectives on communications; to look at whether staff understood strategic issues and objectives; and to identify areas of possible improvement.

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