September 20, 2007

Do you see the problem?

The 2004 Guide for Members of Higher Education Governing Bodies, produced by the Committee of University Chairmen, states that:

The Visitor

Most pre-1992 HEIs have a Visitor. The office is usually referred to specifically in the charter and statutes, stipulating who is to hold the office, but if the charter and statutes are silent, then the Visitor is the Crown. The Crown has various legal manifestations (such as the Queen in Council, the Sovereign acting through the Lord President of the Council, or simply the Queen), and the procedures to be adopted will vary with the formulation. Other Visitors may, for example, be judicial or ecclesiastical office holders.

The role of the Visitor is now restricted largely to carrying the ultimate responsibility for determining the institution's internal legislative provisions, i.e. the charter and statutes. The jurisdiction of the Visitor is laid down by common law and by Act of Parliament. The jurisdiction no longer extends to employment matters; but where there is jurisdiction it is exclusive, that is the ordinary courts have nojurisdiction (except by way of judicial review if the Visitor acts unlawfully). The jurisdiction of the Visitor in respect of determining complaints from students and other members of the HEI (excluding those relating to employment matters) was removed formally in the Higher Education Act 2004. The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) has been granted authority to act in this respect. These arrangements also apply to the post-1992 HEIs, subject to the final approval of the governing body.
The question: OK so the Visitor is replaced by The Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) for Higher Education. However, when one visits the web page for the OIA it only describes how students can complain and not staff. Everybody knows this.

A phone call to Universities UK confirmed that post 1992 HEIs only have in place their own internal procedures and no independent external review body or mechanism such as the Visitor. Do you see the problem?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The problem would seem to be very serious where it is the Director of the Institution - as in the case of the Institute of Education - who faces an employment tribunal for alleged sex discrimination - as reported in the THES in June.

Aphra Behn