Student concerns continue over looming college review

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Concerns have been raised by VP (Campaigns & Communications) Ronnie Rowlands that there is general unrest amongst staff and students surrounding the forthcoming College Review. The review, set to analyse the roles that the Colleges play in University life, is taking place with limited input from College representatives and student opinion according to the VP.

Bringing the issue forward before Union Council on Thursday Week 2, Rowlands stated: “I have picked up on a great deal of unrest from both staff and students about the upcoming College review. As it stands, apart from one Principal and our Provost of Colleges, there is no real College representation on this committee.”

“The University has pledged to ‘consultation’, but we all know how that often turns out. I believe it is important that the Colleges take an active role in politically involving themselves in this review and ensuring that our voice is heard by the University.”

In Week 2, SCAN revealed that only one College Principal would be taking an active part in the review. As well as this, it was unveiled that student representation too would be limited, with LUSU President Laura Clayson and LUSU VP (Union Development) Damon Fairley the sole student voices on the review panel.

Speaking in Union Council, Clayson revealed that she had initially been placed as the only student representative on the panel before Fairley’s introduction. She also proposed that a democratically student voice be on the review panel but this idea was shot down.

“Initially the panel was just comprising of me as the student representative. I went to University Council, I expressed my concern about this and said there needs to be more student representation. I said that Damon Fairley should sit on it as VP Union Development as it is within his remit. Also, I suggested that the other position shouldn’t be filled by me, it should be an elected member of Union Council. Sadly that was rejected.”

Clayson continued, saying that although there was trepidation towards the review from LUSU members this was still something they have to act on. “I think we need to engage with it, because if we don’t it’s going to go ahead anyway and then we are going to have no voice, so I just want people to consider that when they are thinking about it. It’s happening, we can’t change that, so let’s just try and get as much out of the University as we can when they do this review.”

The strategic lead of the review is set to come from Fylde Principal Frank Wareing. Wareing’s role will be to coordinate the self-evaluation document, which is expected to be an important piece of evidence for the panel.

Despite Wareing’s key influence in proceedings, members of Union Council were still alarmed by the lack of College representation and the intentions behind the review this highlights. Many believe that this reflects an anti-college sentiment from some parts of the University.

LUSU Councillor Becky Cook passionately argued that the review needs to recognise the important role played by the nine colleges. “The Colleges need to be right in the middle of every consideration we have as a union because they are such an integral part and such a good reason why people come here and why people stay here, and that really needs to be fed back to whoever decides on this sort of stuff.”

According to the reference of terms for the upcoming review, its purpose is “to consider the effectiveness of the current College staffing structures and make recommendations for the future to enhance support and leadership in the Colleges.” This focus on College leadership is particularly important following recent decisions over two colleges, Bowland and Lonsdale, which are acting without their own College principals.

The document also highlights the academic merit behind the collegiate system, something which Pendle President Rebekah Christon believes misses the point. “In this college review information, is the main idea that the Colleges are only worthwhile whilst they are contributing to the academic success of the students? Because if so, that is completely out of touch with what students actually think.”

It is unknown exactly when the review process will begin, but there have been recent discussions about the possibility of greater student input throughout the process. During council, Clayson stated that a focus group of eight students from Union Council would soon be formed to aid the review. Grizedale President Harry Jacks, added to this that an email had circulated around College Presidents that they too would act as a focus group, although neither of these groups will have the same command as those voices within the ten person review panel.

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