No. 4: University of Wales and The Privy Council again

Letter by Prof Medwin Hughes, 5 September 2012

In his letter to Leighton Andrews, the Education Minister, dated 5 September 2012, Prof. Medwin Hughes, Vice-chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Wales, stated that the University Council had reviewed the Charter and Statutes and had agreed “to substantial changes and it should be noted that most of the current statutes have been deleted.”   The letter went on:

The Charter has been presented to the Privy Council.  Initial comments from your advisors have been received and I am in the process of instructing the University lawyers to add additional clauses within the proposed Supplemental Revised Charter which will note specific dates with regard to exit/closure.  This will be then presented to the Council (the University Council) and the Privy Council for consideration with the view, hopefully, of receiving Royal Assent before the end of the year.”

The revisions of the Charter signify the start of irreversible constitutional change which will, in due course, lead to the full merger of the University of Wales into the University of Wales: Trinity Saint David.  At that particular point, the current Charter of the University of Wales will no longer be required.”  

The proposed changes to the Charter and Statutes are therefore critical and in my letter of 10 December 2012 to the Privy Council I made it clear that these proposals had been made without any consultation with the Graduates.   The action had not been taken in accordance to the requirements of the Statutes and was therefore invalid.    I declared that I was strongly opposed to the changes.

Privy Council reply, 18 December 2012

The reply contained the following:

“I am able to confirm that in June 2012 the University, through it legal agent, submitted to this office draft proposals to amend the Charter and Statutes.   In July, I referred the proposals to the Privy Council’s Advisors on HE policy in Wales for their informal comments only.   To date I have not received a response to my request, although I understand that the University has since met with policy officers to discuss the proposals further.”

It’s clear that Prof Hughes’ hope that the changes would receive Royal Assent by the end of 2012 was wildly optimistic.   It now appears that that the advice that will be given by the “Advisors on HE policy in Wales” will be critical but, at the end of the day the decision will be taken by the Privy Council.

The proposed changes to the Charter and Statues had been submitted to the Privy Council by the University’s legal advisors.    In making any changes to the Statutes, I find it very strange that any competent legal advisors did not bring to the University management’s attention the requirement in the Statutes for consultation.  Perhaps they did draw attention of the University’s management to the obligation to consult and that the University management deliberately chose to ignore this advice.    Whichever is the case, there is a serious issue of competence here.

The next step was to send my correspondence with the Privy Council together with the evidence which proved that the University of Wales had totally ignored the requirements of its Statues to Mr Leighton Andrews, the Education Minister in the Welsh Government.

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