Friday, 20 March 2009

The Media reacts to the news of Brian Roper's resignation.

Polly Curtis in The Guardian reports that

"Brian Roper steps down after accounting mistakes that cost university £56m.

The vice-chancellor of London Metropolitan University, Brian Roper, resigned today in the wake of accounting mistakes which left the university £56m in the red.

Roper will remain at the university until December but has left his role as vice-chancellor with immediate effect, the university said.

The university is facing up to 550 job cuts among its 2,300-strong staff, following the revelation that it had been overpaid for students who failed to complete courses. It is understood to be taking a £15m funding cut this year and is in negotiations with the government's university funding agency about how it will pay back a further £38m.

In Times Higher Education, Rebecca Atwood reports that

"The head of financially beleaguered London Metropolitan University has stepped down.

In a statement sent out today, the university said Brian Roper had decided to take up the opportunity of early retirement.

As first reported in Times Higher Education in July 2008, the Higher Education Funding Council for England has reduced London Met’s grant for 2008-09 by £15 million after it discovered that the university had made incorrect data returns, which are believed to be related to its figures on students who drop out.

In January, it emerged that the funding council also planned a clawback of the money the university was overpaid between 2005 and 2008, which amounts to an additional £38 million.

In an email to staff on 19 February, Mr Roper proposed reducing numbers by up to 550 full-time equivalent posts by July 2010.

The University and College Union branch at London Met said this could mean as many as 700 – or one in four –employees losing their jobs, a move that “defies belief”."

The next day, an article by Tom Foot in the Islington Tribune has the following headline:
"Boss quits at university hit by cash crisis.

Shocked staff told 550 posts face axe

THE vice-chancellor of London Metropolitan University has quit days after releasing a list of hundreds of staff facing redundancy.
The Holloway Road-based university announced the early retirement of Brian Roper yesterday (Thursday). He will leave with “immediate effect”.
The university has been plunged into a cash crisis since a government audit found it had wrongly claimed £38million in higher education funding over three years and demanded its return.
Mr Roper later announced proposals to axe 550 full-time jobs, leading to a series of student and staff demonstrations calling for his dismissal."


"Speaking after Mr Roper’s departure, University and College Union London regional official Barry Jones said: “We have not yet been able to engage with management in a way we would have liked to. We are hoping we will be able to discuss these matters in a different way now.”
He added that last Thursday’s meeting had left staff wondering if their jobs were to be axed. “People are feeling vulnerable and nobody knows who is going and who is staying,” he added. “We want to make sure job cuts are the last resort, which appears to be the opposite of what management has been proposing.”
Mr Jones added that the university’s accounts showed £25million in its coffers following the sale of a student hall of residence.
The union has criticised London Met for advertising four faculty and departmental business manager posts with salaries ranging between £57,231 and £69,951.
Islington North Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn has tabled an Early Day Motion calling for the government to halt its funding cuts to London Met during the recession."

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