Wanted: motivated v-c with 'compelling record'

September 3, 2009

The faint-hearted need not apply, but for the right candidate it should represent as exciting and challenging an opportunity as any in the sector: London Metropolitan University is looking for its next vice-chancellor.

London Met has been an almost constant fixture in the headlines since it fell foul of the Higher Education Funding Council for England over inaccurate student data returns, which resulted in the institution having to pay back £36.5 million.

It has also seen a £15 million cut to its recurrent funding.

Brian Roper, the former vice-chancellor, left the institution in March, and reports into the crisis have criticised the way the institution was managed and governed.

Now, however, the university is looking to draw a line under the affair, and is advertising for a new vice-chancellor in this issue of Times Higher Education, to take over from the acting vice-chancellor, Alfred Morris, and lead it to a more secure future.

The successful candidate will have to deal with the fallout from the cash clawback, including cutting about 200 jobs.

However, they will also get the chance to reinvigorate one of London's largest higher education institutions, which has more than 34,000 students.

Among the many challenges facing the successful candidate will be to ensure that the institution not only survives but prospers in a city that some have suggested has too many universities.

Earlier this year, a report by Policy Exchange, the right-of-centre think-tank, said that with 42 higher education institutions competing for students in the capital, struggling universities should be allowed to fail.

Whether or not this is a view shared by the winner of the next general election, it will be down to the successful applicant for the vice-chancellor's post to ensure that London Met is not in a position to put that theory to the test.

john.gill@tsleducation.com

WHAT THE ROLE REQUIRES

Based in Islington and the City, London Metropolitan University was formed in 2002 when London Guildhall University and the University of North London merged.

The advertisement for the new vice-chancellor emphasises the institution's diverse student intake and drive to widen participation in higher education.

"London Met combines an inspiring mission of widening access with a passion for the highest standards of academic delivery," it says.

"Its mature and nuanced understanding of its mission brings the elevation of students' personal aspirations together with the fulfilment of business needs; local community engagement with an ever-expanding global role; and maintenance of teaching excellence with the further development of its considerable research strengths."

It is looking for a "capable and motivated person with significant leadership and management experience and a compelling record of achievement in the world of higher education".

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