UWIC solicits input

October 19, 2007

The University of Wales Institute Cardiff is to offer the local community unprecedented influence over its management and direction, by setting up a formal "stakeholder forum" charged with giving "plain and honest" advice to managers over how it should be run.

UWIC is currently advertising for everyone who has an interest in its future and believes they can make a contribution to apply to join the new forum.

According to a UWIC spokesman, it is the first such initiative in higher education in Britain.

Richard Walters, clerk to the UWIC board of governors, said "the list is endless" when it comes to who can apply.

At this stage, he said, he expected to see submissions from staff, students, the Welsh Assembly, local authorities, small and medium-size enterprises, chambers of commerce members, schools and ordinary members of the local community.

Mr Walters said that a stakeholder is "like an elephant - we'll know it when we see it". However, he said, UWIC did want "people who will ask pertinent questions about our strategy".

"We want to talk to them about our strategy - what it is, what it might become, how we see the institution in five, ten or 15 years time - to get from them their perception of us and, equally important, their perception of what we ought to be or what we ought to be doing."

Mr Walters insisted that UWIC was not looking to gather input only from elite groups and wanted a genuine cross-section of people.

"We will have an independent membership selection panel that will sift through the applications. We are not looking at the great and the good," he said.

"If we want to recognise the great and the good then we will give them honorary fellowships. This is something where we want people to do something for us and talk to us."

The forum would initially be composed of a dozen members, possibly rising to 25. Mr Walters said that it will focus on commenting and advising on the university's strategy.

He confirmed that the forum will meet a couple of times a year to look at the strategic plan. There will be an informal feel to meetings, which he said would likely consist of opening addresses by the chair of the governors and the vice-chancellor followed by debate, possibly in groups.

"The forum members will have no responsibilities other than to talk plainly and honestly to us," Mr Walters said.

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