Status bid by colleges queried

November 18, 1994

Vice chancellors have been unable to come to an agreement on what to do about colleges which use the word "university" in their titles.

Instead, a council meeting of the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals last week decided to write to the Department for Education seeking clarification on the issue and asking what the department is going to do about enforcing its own rules on the matter.

The council also wants to know whether it is acceptable for colleges to the use the phrase "a university sector college".

The Standing Conference of Principals wrote to the Secretary of State for Education in March 1993 requesting that any publicly-funded higher education college should be entitled to describe itself as a "university college" if it wishes.

SCOP also requested that in future the "higher education sector" be referred to as the "university sector". Both requests were turned down.

In May this year the chairman of SCOP said in a letter to the DFE:"The Secretary of State's proposals are clearly intended to delay the acquisition of full university titles, and thus further disadvantage SCOP institutions in the competitive higher education environment generated by recent Government policy."

The council meeting also decided to set up a programme of research and policy development to flesh out the document on the strategic aims of the CVCP presented at the committee's residential meeting in September.

The question of student numbers will be given top prio-rity, involving a research stage to establish what institutions themselves want and then a policy stage to look at how much more expansion is needed or desired and the implications of this.

The other key priority area is the question of diversity. The CVCP says it wants a clearer idea of what diversity there is in the system at the moment, whether this represents the ideal, and whether the funding and assessment methodologies are work-ing to push universities into convergence.

Once diversity has been defined the CVCP will look at how diversity can be maintained and developed.

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