Troubleshooter linked to top job at London Met

Lampeter v-c ‘on the brink’ of stepping into the breach at troubled institution. Melanie Newman reports

May 12, 2009

Alfred Morris, interim vice-chancellor of the University of Wales, Lampeter, is understood to be on the brink of taking the reins at London Metropolitan University.

Mr Morris, 68, is gaining a reputation in the higher education sector as a troubleshooter, having been parachuted into Lampeter in 2008 after a management crisis at the institution. Senior executives left after the university was criticised in a report by consultants commissioned by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales.

The report suggested three options for Lampeter, including merger and relocation. Mr Morris backed the former proposal soon after stepping into the breach, and in December 2008 the university joined forces with Trinity College Carmarthen.

Mr Morris was vice-chancellor of the University of the West of England until 2006.

London Met is understood to be planning to announce the appointment later this week. It had its teaching grant cut by £15 million for 2008-09, and is facing the clawback of a further £36 million over the next five years, after the Higher Education Funding Council for England discovered it had been under-reporting student non-completions. As many as 550 jobs could go as a result.

Meanwhile, students have occupied London Met’s Sir John Cass department of art, media and design in protest over staff redundancies. The move followed a one-day strike by lecturers last week.

A spokesperson for the students said: “As a result of these unprecedented cuts, the Sir John Cass department is to be hit particularly hard, with projected job losses of more than 50 per cent in many subject fields.”

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said: “London Met students rightly are concerned about how the severe planned redundancies will impact on their education and for the future of their institution. It’s time the management faced up to their errors and stopped punishing the staff for their mistakes.

“Hefce has said it will be holding an independent review looking at its involvement in the crisis, and we call for a full independent inquiry into London Met’s finances and how the institution has been run. Any talk of redundancies must be put on hold until after that has taken place.”

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