Whistleblowers: LJMU expands inquiry

April 20, 2001

External consultants have been brought in at Liverpool John Moores University's estates and facilities department after an internal inquiry into staff claims of mismanagement.

The THES reported in December last year that vice-chancellor Michael Brown had been so concerned by the volume of complaints from staff in the department that he set up a panel of inquiry.

cient staff in this area raised issues with me that suggested that there was a possibility of a significant basis of concern," he said at the time. "Many issues were raised by female staff concerning equal opportunities and management style."

This week, the university confirmed that it had appointed an external consultant "to assist in a structural review of the estates and facilities service team". Dr Brown had earlier told staff that as well as a management review, the panel of inquiry's report had led to formal disciplinary investigations.

Dr Brown has appealed to staff to formalise their complaints under the disciplinary procedures. He said: "A number of staff in the area have made complaints of a serious nature, which, if proven, would need to be addressed formally by the university in the interests of all concerned. In order to make progress, it is now necessary to pursue the various complaints via due processI "Given the potential seriousness of the matters realised, I consider it to be important that the next phase of the investigation process should be handled at the highest possible level. I have asked the registrar and secretary, Alison Wild, to handle the investigation."

A spokeswoman for the university said Ms Wild's investigations were ongoing. It is understood that 24 members of staff have come forward with formal complaints.

Students' marks raised after sloppy exam paper

A group of students at Liverpool John Moores University have had their exam results raised by 5 per cent after they were given a hand-written exam paper riddled with corrections and comments.

The university began an inquiry after students on the BSc degree course in outdoor and science education complained to the media about the exam paper earlier this year. The paper was barely legible and was littered with corrected mistakes.

One exam question had a comment from a moderator complaining that the question was too ambiguous, but it was unchanged on the exam paper. Some students said they did not feel comfortable answering the question because of the disparaging comment.

The investigation into the affair has also led to a disciplinary inquiry and to changes in the university's exam administration procedures to ensure the situation will not recur.

The university issued a statement this week: "Liverpool John Moores University considered the incident to be unacceptable and took action to ensure that such a situation would not occur in the future."

It is understood that the exam paper was not typed because of industrial action. A member of lecturers' union Natfhe delivered the handwritten paper in protest against cuts and alleged shortfalls in administrative support. It was never typed up.

A university spokesman said that a report into the incident by provost Jennifer Latto had recommended "minor but important improvements in the system of examination paper delivery". The spokesman said simple changes had been introduced. Each academic who submits an exam paper for typing must formally receive and sign off the typed version before it is submitted for exams.

A university statement added that disciplinary action may be on the cards:

"A disciplinary inquiry has commenced involving a lecturer concerned. This lecturer has been called to a hearing, which will progress in accordance with standard university timescales and procedures."

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