Statute shake-up on cards

July 17, 1998

OLD universities are set for a wholesale change in statutes due to recommendations on governance in the Dearing report.

Most pre-1992 institutions have governing bodies larger than the 25 members favoured by Dearing and are now in the process of reviewing their make-up. But any change means going through the lengthy process of altering their statutes.

This has led some to look at a number of other issues demanding a statute change, which entails consultations with the senate, faculty boards, staff, convocation and other bodies within the university, consideration by the council and university court and a submission to the Privy Council.

Michael Shattock, registrar at Warwick University and secretary of the Council of University Chairmen, said: "The whole business of changing one's statutes is a very tedious exercise because we have to put it through all sorts of bodies that meet only once a term. "It has prompted us to look at all sorts of things in our statutes that we have gone along with but now have an opportunity to change."

For example, Warwick has nothing in its statutes about awarding degrees jointly with another university. It has received conflicting legal advice on whether this means it can award the degrees. The issue has become pressing because it is making a joint bid with Leicester University for a medical school.

Brian Herron, chairman of the CUC's working party on governance, said several universities were reviewing their governing bodies in the light of Dearing.

One of the furthest along the route is Manchester, which already has proposals with the Privy Council for a governing body of 30, down from 37. While this is still above the Dearing figure, Howard Keable, head of governance, said the university was anxious to preserve the right balance between university and lay members.

Universities considering change include: Bristol, where a proposal to reduce the 67-strong council will be considered in September; Durham, which will discuss proposals in October; Lancaster, which is considering reducing its council to just under 30 people; and Exeter.

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