Clause II of the Charter states clearly that Graduates are Members of the University
Clause 11 of the Statues dealing with Consultation states clearly that:
The University shall regularly consult with its Graduates.
Freedom of Information Request
In September 2012 I sent a Freedom of Information request to the University of Wales asking 8 questions. Following an exchange of emails for clarification, I received a reply on 12 October 2012 stating that I could expect answers by 19 November 2012. When nothing arrived I made enquiries and was told to expect some answers “within days”. Answers to 4 questions eventually arrived on 6 December 2012. The answers included a copy of a letter dated 5 September 2012 sent by Medwin Hughes, the UoW Vice-chancellor to Leighton Andrews, the Education Minister together with a Statement made by Leighton Andrews in response to this letter dated 5 December. Very convenient!
One of the questions was: What consultations had the University undertaken with its Graduates:
(a) before the Council Meeting on 21 October 2011 and;
(b) after the Council Meeting on 21 October 2011?
(a) The answer was that there was no consultation before 21 October 2011.
(b) The example of “consultation” after 21 October 2011 they gave was a copy of a Public Announcement advert dated 28 November 2011 which had been placed in the London Gazette and the Western Mail. This advert was the announcement of the intention to present a Private Measure to the Westminster Parliament that would result in the dissolution of the University of Wales; its merger with the University of Wales: Trinity Saint David under the Charter of UoW:TSD and the transfer of the University of Wales assets to the University of Wales: Trinity Saint David.
The advert is headed University of Wales: Trinity Saint David. Even if I’d seen the advert, I wouldn’t have bothered to read it as I’ve no connection with this university. The University made no news release to draw public attention to the existence of this advert. This was a deliberate act to hide this action.
The advert is a statement of intent and there is no indication whatsoever that there was an invitation to consult about the proposals. To describe this advert as “consultation” is laughable.
The existence of the Bill only came to public notice when it was picked up by the effective investigative journalist, Karen Owen, working for the Welsh language weekly newspaper, “Y Cymro”, the only Welsh language newspaper. The story broke in “Y Cymro” on Friday 23 December 2011. If the University Council was serious about consultation, why didn’t they put out a news release to the media to highlight their intention and publish it on their own website?
The other example given of consultation after 21 October 2011 was that the information was circulated in the University’s Journal. The only journal with which I’m familiar is “Campus” which is published each summer. In the Summer 2012 edition of Campus, which I have in my possession, there is the following statement by the Vice-Chancellor:
“The past year has been a year of many changes within the University of Wales. In order to be in a position to respond to the needs of students, both in Wales and further afield, the University has decided to merge with the University of Wales; Trinity Saint David and Swansea Metropolitan University.
“In October 2011 it was agreed that the merger should proceed under the 1828 Charter of the University of Wales: Trinity Saint David, the oldest higher education Charter in the United Kingdom after that of Oxford and Cambridge Universities.”
This is a clear statement of intent, as was the advert, and it couldn’t possibly be an exercise in consultation!
The University Council have clearly failed to follow the requirements of the University Statutes and this makes the decision taken on 21 October 2011 invalid. And consequently, all actions resulting from this decision are also invalid.
Members of the University Council do not appear to understand simple English. They don’t appear to understand:
– that the use of “shall” means that consultation with Graduates is a requirement not an optional extra;
– the word “regularly” as they haven’t undertaken any consultation;
– the word “consult” as they clearly think that placing an advert making a statement of intent is a consultation!