Along with completely obliterating the University Court, the top table has further gutted the responsibilities and the powers of the Senate, and given them to the University Council. The Senate consists of all department heads, all faculty deans, all college principals, four faculty lecturers, four faculty associate deans, two SU officers, four students, and a non-academic staff member, as well as the senior management team.
The body that most broadly represents the interests of the faculties, departments, colleges, and students’ union, now has no power to open, close, or prevent the opening or closure of faculties, departments, colleges, and the students’ union. Senate’s approval or disapproval will now have no sway over the decisions of a Council which:
– Got rid of the one post reserved for non-academic members of staff.
– Got rid of the one post reserved for a member of the local council.
– Got rid of University Court, and now has sole power over who sits on the nominations committee, the body responsible for appointing its members. Self-perpetuating oligarchy much?
– Extended the maximum term of office for lay members, who have no day-to-day involvement with the university and know none of the people affected by their decisions, from six years to nine years.
– Doesn’t upload its minutes for months at a time.
– Stripped the university press officer and LUSU Vice-President (Campaigns & Communications) of its right to observe proceedings.
Why was this done? The rationale was that it HAD to be done due to the Code of Practice that university governance bodies HAVE to observe. When it was pointed out to the top table that this was nonsense, the reason was changed to ‘the new Office for Students might want us to do it when it’s established.’ Better safe than sorry.
The University Council – which consists of the senior management team, two student representatives, five senators and NINE external lay members – now has zero constitutional restrictions on its behaviour. It doesn’t even have joint responsibility for appointing the Vice-Chancellor anymore – that privilege now belongs solely to the Council. And the saddest part about it? Senate committed this act of constitutional harakiri on ITSELF. YOUR LUSU President, YOUR Head of Department, YOUR Faculty Dean, YOUR College Principal, voted to stop adequately representing your interests. If anybody ends up for the chop, they’ll have no-one to blame but themselves.
What’s more, subtext does not have anybody on the Council willing to share information, as people have deemed their self-importance to be more valuable than transparency and the public interest. Even so, we managed to cover all of this this year, and you can read our coverage below.