Collaboration paper “not good enough,” say LUSU

Lancaster University Students’ Union (LUSU) is to send its recommendations to the University regarding current discussions about collaboration with the University of Liverpool. This follows the publication of a Green Paper on the issue by the University, which has since been discussed at two meetings of Union Council, LUSU’s governing body.

The recommendation voices the Union’s concerns that the Green Paper is not comprehensive enough, also stressing that discussions should focus on the impact upon students.

In July, a Joint Strategic Planning Group was established to report to the Vice Chancellors of both institutions on the possibility of collaboration; the Green Paper is the result of this consultation.

The report places the need for collaboration in the contexts of an increasingly globalised higher education industry and increased competition for research funding in this country.

On Tuesday Week One, Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Bob McKinlay outlined the issue to an emergency meeting of Union Council, which then discussed the matter further at Council on Thursday Week One.

The Union’s recommendation is the official response to the Paper resulting from these discussions. It calls for a reconsideration of the criteria used to assess the viability of collaboration with Liverpool as well as more analysis of the potential negative impact of collaboration.

LUSU are also calling for more consideration of the potential impact on the student experience at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. “Lancaster University Students’ Union stresses that whilst […] having discussions on the future strategy of Lancaster University, senior management must always consider Lancaster students first,” the letter says.

Speaking to SCAN, LUSU President George Gardiner saw the discussions themselves as a positive thing, but said that “this Green Paper which the discussions are based on isn’t good enough, quite simply.”

Gardiner added that the paper “doesn’t paint enough of a picture, it doesn’t show enough of what’s going on. Because of that it’s hard for people to talk about it, it’s not as informed a discussion as would be fruitful.”

LUSU are also recommending that incoming Vice Chancellor Professor Mark Smith takes a more prominent role in the discussions. “It’s the case that we’ve got a new Vice Chancellor coming in a couple of months and he has to publicly take the lead on what’s going on,” said Gardiner.

“Senior Management itself has stressed that this is going to be a five-to-10 year issue, and it’s Professor Mark Smith who’s going to be here in five years or so,” he added.

The consultation process will continue for a further two weeks.

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