UCLan v-c aspires to be called president

December 21, 2007

Competing in a global market leaves no room for sentiment and little for tradition - and Malcolm McVicar believes that his title, vice- chancellor, is causing confusion.

Although the title is common to the heads of universities in the UK, the Commonwealth and beyond, the vice-chancellor of the University of Central Lancashire has told staff he has doubts about the title as an "accurate descriptor" of the role internationally.

So, in a nod to the US format, Dr McVicar, who is overseeing a shake-up of the institution's structures, plans to adopt the title of "president" as an alternative.

The proposals, unveiled in a memo to staff, also address the titles of deputy vice-chancellor and pro vice-chancellor, which will now exist alongside the alternatives of vice-president and deputy president respectively.

Dr McVicar wrote: "The terms vice-chancellor, deputy vice-chancellor and pro vice-chancellor have currency in the UK but do not always act as an accurate descriptor of the roles internationally."

UCLan plans to restructure its departments into schools in a bid to reduce bureaucracy and "empower" its staff.

Although some staff are concerned that the proposals will lead to redundancies in smaller departments, the university has insisted that there will be no job losses.

In a consultation document, Dr McVicar says: "Our internal processes can be very bureaucratic and can frustrate initiative and discourage enterprise. Many of our systems are criticised for being excessively bureaucratic and duplicatory."

But he says all new schools would have to meet a set of criteria before they would be set up. "I have not set a minimum or maximum student or staff size for schools, but a school must be of a sufficient size to be academically and financially viable."

A University and College Union representative told The Times Higher : "It is not clear what the criteria are for economic viability. We are assuming departments that don't meet the criteria will be merged. It's something of a mystery how that simple action will render everything hunky-dory, but management seem convinced that this restructuring is the answer."

A spokesman for UCLan said the reforms were not designed to reduce costs and did not involve job losses. "By developing flexible structures and devolving budgets ... we will empower our staff to concentrate on academic priorities and respond to opportunities as they arise," he said.

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