London Student

Official inquiry into mismanagement at UCL to be launched

UCL’s Academic Board has voted in favour of forming an inquiry to investigate issues of governance at the university.

The vote passed with 149 in favour, 44 against and 7 abstentions, following a Special Meeting of the Academic Board on Monday this week.

The Board consists of senior members of UCL management, professors, elected representatives of the university’s academic staff and student representatives from the various departments. It is one of the most senior governance bodies in the university.

A Commission of Inquiry will be setup to “to review the problems reported in UCL’s
governance, decision-making, and strategic direction” and make recommendations on how to address any issues found.

This comes after an unofficial vote of no confidence in the university’s management passed in February this year. 94% of the 139 who voted, said no to the question “Do you have confidence in the governance of UCL?”.

In the same month at a Student Union General Assembly, a vote of no confidence in the governance of UCL garnered 97% of the vote.

Another motivation for forming the inquiry was the “anti-academic and anti-democratic attitudes” expressed in a memo that was sent to the entire Communications & Marketing Team by now ex-Director of Media Relations, Charles Hymas.

The Commission which will consist of 20 people in total, will be made up by members of the Academic Board, a member of the Senior Management Team, current and former members of UCL’s Council, four heads of departments and two students.

The original letter calling for the special meeting was signed by 137 members of the Academic Board.

A UCL spokesperson denied the commission was an inquiry into mismanagement and said it was instead ‘to make proposals on improvements to governance at UCL’.

Angus O’Brien, one of the student signatories, described the proposed commission as ‘a crucial opportunity to start bringing UCL’s divided community back together.’

But he warned this is only the first step: ‘Until control over the future of this university returns from the offices of the Provost and UCL Council to the Academic Board, the necessary changes are not likely to be implemented anytime soon – although the Commission will add to the growing cacophony of voices calling for reform.’