Warwick gives up advisory role

September 17, 1999

A round-up of the issues facing the CVCP at its meeting in Telford this week.

Diana Warwick, chief executive of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, has stood down from a funding council advisory group as vice-chancellors launched a second attack against her over alleged "conflicts of interest".

Baroness Warwick was criticised by some vice-chancellors for taking up membership of a funding council advisory group responsible for deciding how Pounds 10 million should be allocated to institutions.

She was one of three CVCP representatives on the group, which has drawn up criteria for assessing bids from institutions for a share of the money earmarked by the Higher Education Funding Council for England for developing good management practice.

She announced she was stepping down from the group this week as critics pointed out that both she and the CVCP could be placed in a difficult position, should any institution wish to challenge the advisory group's decisions on bids.

The criticisms came from Peter Knight, vice-chancellor of the University of Central England, and Graham Zellick, vice-chancellor of the University of London, who led calls for Baroness Warwick's resignation as CVCP chief executive when she became a Labour peer in July.

Dr Knight said it was unprecedented for a CVCP chief executive to be appointed to such a group: "The key point is that when groups like this are formed to advise on the allocation of funds, often things go wrong and there is a challenge or argument over their decisions.

"If there is an argument, the CVCP will be expected to make representations on behalf of the complaining institution, which is what it is there for. But it is difficult to make those representations if your chief executive is a member of the group that made the decisions," he said.

Professor Zellick, who has resigned from the CVCP over Baroness Warwick's dual role as chief executive and Labour peer, described her membership of the advisory group as "disgraceful".

He said: "It is just another example of a total lack of understanding of propriety within the CVCP.

"Perhaps they are trying to make a point that she is entitled to do anything not withstanding her new elevated position."

A CVCP spokesman said: "Baroness Warwick's membership of the group was entirely appropriate while it focused on the principles and criteria of the fund.

" But now the project is moving towards decisions on bids, she will be withdrawing from membership," he added.

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