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Haines Watts report into the Finances of the University of Wales Lampeter

August 6th, 2009 · No Comments

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Thursday, 06 August 2009

To: Higher Education Funding Council for Wales HEFCW

Cc: Nerys Evans & Alun Davies AMs
Dr Medyn Hughes Vice Chancellor, Mr G Tobias Secretary, Dr B Jones President – UWL

Re: Freedom of Information Request for a copy of the Haines Watts report into the Finances of the University of Wales Lampeter.

Further to your refusal to provide a copy of this report, I received an acknowledgement of my complaint to the Information Commissioner on the 1st July 2009 and I am awaiting allocation. I understand that most cases are resolved without the need for an Information Tribunal and therefore, I am writing to you so that you can consider your unrealistic position on the matter which is clearly against the public interest.

Simply to say that the exposure of incompetence, financial irregularities, unlawful payments of expenses, abuse of public office, discrimination and the institutionalised abuse of students would cause further job losses and may prejudice current negotiations with Trinity University College is not good enough.
It fails the public interest test as set out by the Information Commissioner and depending on the circumstances; the public interest in disclosure may involve helping to ensure that:

• There is informed public debate about significant decisions.
• The public are able to participate effectively in decisions affecting them.
• There is adequate scrutiny of the decision-making process.
• Authorities are accountable for the spending of public money.
• Authorities do their job properly.

There has been growing media interest in this report and while in that respect there is no specific definition, it is generally agreed that the public interest in that context includes the following:

• Detecting or exposing crime or a serious misdemeanour.
• Protecting public health and safety.
• Preventing the public from being misled by some statement or action of an individual or organisation.
• Exposing misuse of public funds or other forms of corruption by public bodies.
• Revealing potential conflicts of interest by those in positions of power and influence.
• Exposing hypocritical behaviour by those holding high office.

It would appear that all these criteria apply to the fiasco that is still going on at the University of Wales Lampeter which can only get worse as the situation is clearly out of control and facing meltdown.
Therefore, radical intervention is needed to safeguard working conditions, further redundancies, or closure through loss of public confidence. This questions the ability of HEFCW and the Quality Assurance Agency to regulate higher education in the ‘public’ and not ‘self’ interest, and I believe the suicide risk at Lampeter is a matter of concern to the Welsh Audit Office.

I draw your attention to fact that my submission to the Innovation, Universities, Science & Skills Committee has been published at www.parliament.uk/ius. This means it now has privilege and can be published without the fear of the usual bully boy tactics and threats of legal action to keep the public from knowing the truth of what really goes on at Lampeter. I shall be busy drawing this to the attention of the press.

The Innovation, Universities, Science & Skills Committee press release dated 2nd August 2009 makes the point that we have an unfit standards system, and that support for and treatment of part time and mature students should be improved. The Governments forthcoming review of fees will include support for mature students and will give me a further opportunity to highlight the appalling way in which Lampeter treats mature students and the disadvantaged. This explains the 75% drop out rate for the course I was undertaking and clearly issues of retention and waste of public money need to be addressed.

Phil Willis MP the Chairman of the Committee said:

Much more needs to be done to help part-time and mature students. There needs to be equal treatment for all students and a system that has the flexibility to take account of the needs of, for example, a mature student who has family commitments.

It was raising these concerts at Lampeter that resulted in me being victimised and being forced to give up my studies. As a result it has exposed that fact that there is no adequate regulation of a corrupt institution that flouts the rules and then hides behind the law, and that corporate governance by the University Council has broken down. Subsequent change of regime has simply acted to conceal rather than purge the wrongdoing of the past in the hope it all goes away.

Now that there is official recognition by Parliament of the way in which mature students and the disadvantaged are discriminated against, it will strengthen my forthcoming complaint to the Charity Commission that Lampeter is in breach of the public benefit test under the Charity Act 2006. That it is the Charity Commission and not HEFCW who will act as regulator is evidence of your own concealment, incompetence and refusal to act appropriately in these matters which highlights the need for ESTYN style inspections. Moreover, the Charity Commission will also need a copy of the Haines Watts report.

I have already met with Nerys Evans AM on these matters and who intends to raise them with the Enterprise and Learning Committee and I believe the Education Minister. Given the likelihood of reforming legislation this is going to happen anyway and I shall be submitting evidence to the Committee accordingly.

I have a meeting arranged with Alun Davies AM to request he raises the issue of the Haines Watts report in the Finance Committee. We have a right to know why our money is being wasted on Lampeter without a proper public inquiry into what went wrong, who was held to account, and what has been done about it. Common sense tells us that this needs to happen in order to restore public confidence, prevent further job losses and the economic decline of the local community.

Tags: Committee Findings and Lampeter University