Whistleblowers: UCE recovers salary from lecturer who lied

September 6, 2002

The University of Central England has recovered several thousand pounds wrongly paid to former lecturer Elizabeth Hall after an investigation by The THES found that she had lied to overturn her dismissal from the university in 1996.

Ms Hall, who runs an internet business selling essays to students, was dismissed by UCE after complaints about a "failure of conduct". She successfully appealed against the dismissal, falsely claiming her mother suffered a stroke and required frequent attention. She was reinstated and paid a salary for several months before she left the university, voluntarily, for good.

The university issued legal proceedings to recover salary wrongly paid to her after The THES found she had forged a doctor's note to save her UCE job. This week it said: "Ms Hall has paid a substantial sum to the university in full and final settlement of the court case initiated by UCE to recover salary wrongly paid to her. The payment includes the court costs that the university incurred."

College failings caught by routine Ofsted report
Ministers and governors received repeated warnings about senior management failings at North Birmingham College dating back to 1997 - but all were brushed off until a routine Ofsted report last month condemned the management of the college as "unsatisfactory".

The report says the overall quality of the college provision was "inadequate" because of poor "leadership and management". Principal Joan Short and her deputy, Ian Douglas, left the college after the inspectors' visit and remain on "extended sick leave". But staff are asking why warnings were repeatedly ignored.

* In October 1997, former lecturer Mike Allderidge wrote to the then chair of governors, Peter Upton, blaming a "crisis in staff morale" on "the total failure of Ms Short and Mr Douglas to provide effective leadership". He said that Mr Douglas "would appear totally unqualified to hold a staff position".

Mr Douglas, who has one O level and two CSEs, was promoted to deputy principal within two years of joining the college as a personnel assistant, via two senior positions that were never opened to competition.

In January 1998, Mr Upton dismissed Mr Allderidge's warnings as "misconceived" and said the corporation had "the utmost confidence" in the pair

* In May 1998, the issue of Mr Douglas's appointment was raised again, this time by lecturer Ian Walker. He warned Kim Howells, then minister for lifelong learning, that Mr Douglas had "no teaching experience and no qualifications" and complained about the failure to advertise his jobs. Dr Howells replied that as the posts were not formally designated as "senior posts", there was no requirement to advertise

* In November 1998, Dr Howells's successor, George Mudie, said that the college funding council had "misinformed" the department and that Mr Douglas did hold a senior post. But he was satisfied that the posts did not have to be advertised

* In May 1999, six lecturers tried to take out a grievance against Ms Short. It was rejected without investigation by chairman of governors Jeff Dixon.

* Also in May 1999, lecturers' union Natfhe passed a vote of no confidence in the principal and "other senior post-holders". The motion said the union "deplores the virtual collapse of academic standardsI a result of senior management's incompetence". Mr Dixon declared that the managers had "the full confidence and backing of the corporation"

* In September 1999, a Natfhe survey found that 88 per cent of respondents felt that senior management lacked integrity.

* In October 1999, Malcolm Wicks, then the lifelong learning minister, told local MP Lynne Jones that even if there was impropriety in the appointment of Mr Douglas, "there is nothing that can usefully be done now" and his qualifications were a matter for the college

* In November 1999, The THES reported on concerns over the appointment of Mr Douglas. Ms Short wrote to The THES warning: "We are taking legal advice on defamation action." The THES wrote further reports in December and January 2000

* In December 2000, the college paid an undisclosed sum of money to Mr Walker, who had been selected for redundancy, to settle his claim that he was victimised for blowing the whistle.

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