The Collaborative Centres
On 6 December 2012 I received a reply to another of my Freedom of Information requests concerning the number of Collaborative Centre which were still operational. These are the external centres where the University has been validating courses leading to students being awarded University of Wales degrees. I asked:
1. How many centres have received notification that their agreement is been terminated but they are able to continue teaching current students until the courses have been completed?
Answer: Overseas: 74
In UK: 38
2. How many centres continue to have an agreement which currently allows them to continue to recruit new students?
Answer: Overseas: 45
In UK: 29
These answers amazed me and I’m not surprised that the University ran into difficulties trying to manage all these external centres, many in numerous foreign countries. A couple of years ago there were probably even more centres! You must have a well-managed management system with clearly documented processes and procedures together with rigorous regular internal systems auditing with reports sent to top management and the University Council in order to control such an operation effectively. The UK centres are mainly private collages with the majority being in London and many of their students are foreign students.
Ending the agreements
I had asked the date by which all the agreements would come to an end. It was explained that there had to be individual negotiations with each individual centre and that most of the courses leading to validated UoW degrees would come to an end before the end of 2016 but that some would not be completed until 2017/18. The letter dated 5 Sept. 2012 sent by Prof Medwin Hughes to Mr Leighton Andrews expands on this and explains that “one of the key risks identified in this process was the fact that the University of Wales had not secured any form of consistency in the initial legal contracts regarding exit dates or arrangements with validated centres. The University has had to agree individual exit agreements with every centre.”
I can sympathise with those trying to deal with the aftermath of the rapid, apparently uncontrolled, expansion of these Centres. Prof Hughes explains that the current structure of the University with its power to award degrees must remain until around 2017/18.
There must be a sound team in charge to ensure the efficient management of the phasing out of these Centres over the period. This reminds me of a similar process I examined a few years ago. Family documents showed that one of my great, great grandfathers, a quarryman, had purchased a terraced house in the village of Penmachno in 1867 with the aid of a mortgage from the North Denbighshire Permanent Benefit Building Society. This was a prominent Building Society in northern Wales at this time established by the famous Thomas Gee. I went to the National Archives in Kew to examine the records and found that a decision was taken in 1910 to dissolve the Society. Of course there were still many people at that time who had mortgages with a number of years to run. It was 1926 by the time the last mortgage was paid off and the Society was finally dissolved on 3 February 1927. The annual reports and accounts over the rundown period showed that it was a well-managed orderly process and the accounts balanced for each year over the period.
I very much hope that the rundown process to end these validating agreements will be equally well managed. However, the big difference is that I don’t want to see the University of Wales dissolved at the end of this process. I want the institution to continue to exist. I have a University of Wales degree and I want my degree to continue to mean something. I also believe that there is a continuing role for the University in the future.