Today academics voted overwhelmingly against the governance of University College London (UCL) in a vote of no confidence.
The vote was held at the end of a meeting with academics and members of management present. Although it was described by the organisers as an “informal meeting of the Academic Board”, some of those present disputed the meeting’s legitimacy and instead described it as a “town hall meeting”.
The Academic Board is one of the most senior governance bodies in the university.
When those attending were posed the question “Do you have confidence in the governance of UCL?”, 94% of the 139 who voted said no.
Many academics fear that the university’s £1.25bn expansion plan, which includes the proposed UCL East campus, is not fully funded and will jeopardise the quality of the university. The university has grown from 17,000 students in 2005 to its current 39,500 students.
In a four-page petition sent on behalf of other UCL academics, Professor Tony Segal detailed the grievances about Provost Michael Arthur and chair of UCL’s Council, Dame DeAnne Julies. He wrote:
“The crux of the matter is that Professor Arthur and Dame DeAnne are intent on driving through a programme of rapid expansion of UCL, exposing it to serious financial and academic risks, and that this is being done without proper consultation with, and the authority of, the Council, and without adequate discussion with the Academic Board.”
He accused the university management of pushing through policy “driven by fiscal rather than educational policies”.
In the aftermath of the vote, Angus O’Brien, student representative and member of the Academic Board, told London Student:
“This raises major questions regarding the leadership at UCL. The overwhelming no vote marks the beginning of academics and students reclaiming the university for what it should be.”
The meeting comes in the context of a senior judge launching an investigation into UCL academics’ claims of misconduct by the university management.