Whitehead queried

July 11, 1997

The article by Alan Whitehead, a former staff member at Southampton Institute (THES, July 4), contains several points which are not correct and which reflect adversely on Southampton Institute.

It links events at Southampton with the Public Accounts Committee inquiry into Swansea Institute. Audits by the Higher Education Funding Council for England have demonstrated that there are no such financial irregularities at Southampton Institute. Indeed, the chairman of the HEFCE wrote to me on April 30 to say that, following their investigations, "the institute is an academically and financially successful institution".

The article says: "a strong chief executive is eventually removed". David Leyland's retirement from the institute is entirely voluntary and he has not been removed by the board of governors.

It states: "most of the governors were concerned as much about financial as academic success". So they should be since the articles of government place such a responsibility on them and the funding council holds them accountable.

He says "not everyone was kept adequately informed. Staff were strongly discouraged either from finding out what was happening at governors meetings or from putting alternative views from governors". These statements are manifestly untrue. Three staff representatives enable the views of staff to be put to the board and they do so. The papers and minutes have been placed in the library since 1989. The institute publishes two newsletters which provide staff with information on key decisions made by governors as well as other decision makers in the institute.

The board of governors has spent considerable time discussing matters of governance and the respective responsibilities of the principal and academic board in relation to its own and is satisfied with its procedures.

David Smith

Chairman of governors Southampton Institute

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