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A review of the Deanery system is being undertaken which could lead to significant changes in the way that disciplinary and welfare issues are dealt with at the University.
The ‘Working Group to consider the University Deanery’ was formed on the 31st May 2012 and aims to review the present structure of the Deanery, the roles and responsibilities of staff involved, and to develop a common standard to document the reporting of disciplinary incidents and outcomes.
This review follows on from an audit of the Deanery completed by professional services firm KPMG in 2011. The auditors concluded that there were no critical problems with the current system. However, it recommended consistency in both documentation and treatment across the University. This has led to concerns that the Deanery system could be centralised as opposed to having individual College Deans.
At present, each College has a Dean and several Assistant Deans. While these work closely with the University Dean, they must also work alongside the College Administrators and Residence Office, the College Porters, and the JCR and SCR of their respective College.
This means that, under the current system, the Dean and Assistant Deans become well known within the College and conversely know the College members. As a result, the Deans are able to give context to many disciplinary situations which could lead to greater understanding of a student’s circumstances.
Rosalia O’Reilly, LUSU Vice President (Equality, Welfare & Diversity), assured SCAN that she would never support the removal of College Deans. She said: “I believe that they provide one of the most valuable aspects of the College system: community and welfare based discipline.”
O’Reilly went on to state that she feels the Deaneries require more funding and resources. She said: “I think that the University need to shell out, they need to invest more money and allow the College Deans and University Deans more time and support to fulfil their roles effectively.”
Matt Storey, the University Dean, told SCAN: “The working group is considering options to improve the Deanery service, which has an important role in ensuring that the University is a fair and secure place to study and live. The resourcing requirements of the Deanery are being looked at and all options are being considered including the introduction of IT systems to improve efficiency.”
He added: “LUSU and the colleges are involved in this process and are gathering opinions from University members. Any outcomes or changes from the review will be communicated and discussed at the appropriate committees. This process is part of a continuing review of procedures and processes to make sure they are appropriate and fit for purpose.”
SCAN understands that a new online system is to be piloted in Pendle, Cartmel and Grizedale colleges this year in response to KPMG’s suggestion for improvements in documentation and consistency.
O’Reilly added: “I do think that there should be some consistency and guidelines in terms of fines and punishments, but that they need to remain very loose so as to give the Dean the ability to view each case as individual, and see students on personable levels so as to ensure they are being properly taken care of.”
Student opinion voiced on LUSU’s YourVoice website is overwhelmingly against any removal of the College Deans. Adam Harrison-Henshall wrote: “I’m curious as to what ways students are seen to benefit by further centralising university services?”
Joe O’Neill posted: “If we’re a collegiate university, we’re a collegiate university. If we want to keep centralising everything, let’s stop pissing about and accept that we are no longer a collegiate university.”
The review is ongoing, and it is understood that a recommendation would not be passed until next year at the earliest.