Page last updated at 10:45 GMT, Tuesday, 15 December 2009

University must prove 'adequacy'

The University and College union called on its board of governors to resign

London's biggest university may not receive extra funding unless it proves its "adequacy" after a finance crisis, its vice-chancellor has admitted.

London Metropolitan University (LMU) was ordered to repay £36.5m after issuing false data on student numbers.

LMU's acting vice-chancellor Alfred Morris said it must restore "respect and confidence" after a report criticised its senior officials.

The University and College Union called on its board of governors to resign.

The situation arose because the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) only provides universities with money for a student who sits all their exams at the end of the year.

LMU admitted it counted students as having completed the period if they moved into the next year, regardless of whether they had sat all exams.

'Fresh start'

Under the LMU's definition, just 3% of students failed to complete the year. Under the real definition the non-completion rate was 30%.

The payback order threw the university - with 34,000 students - into financial crisis and several strikes have been staged by lecturers worried about redundancy during the fallout.

London Met desperately needs a fresh start and that cannot happen with the current board of governors in place
Sally Hunt, University and College Union general secretary

Last month reports by Sir David Melville and business advisers Deloitte found that LMU's former vice-chancellor Brian Roper and members of his board of governors were aware unfair funding claims were being made.

Sir David concluded: "It must be the case that the board of governors and the audit committee should take their share of corporate responsibility for a failure of this magnitude."

In a leaked email to HEFCE chief executive Sir Alan Langlands, LMU's acting vice-chancellor Mr Morris admits the "adequacy" of the board of governor's response will be critical to the success of any bids for further funding.

Mr Morris wrote: "It would not be easy to persuade the HEFCE board of the case for significant further support, and the restoration of mutual respect and confidence remained an essential preliminary."

The university's board of governors will meet later to discuss the crisis.

An LMU spokeswoman said: "A full response to both reports, specifying the detail and timescales of actions to be taken, will then be prepared."

University and College Union general secretary Sally Hunt said: "London Met desperately needs a fresh start and that cannot happen with the current board of governors in place.

"The position of the board is completely untenable and they will cause greater damage by remaining in post."

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