Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Union Demise Forces London to Contemplate Its Mortality: News

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Union Demise Forces London to Contemplate Its Mortality: News

Article excerpt

College leaders vote to close ULU but say support for federal structure remains. Jack Grove writes.

The demise of the University of London's student union does not spell the end of the university itself, its deputy vice-chancellor has insisted.

College leaders last week voted to close the University of London Union, backing a review by a working party that said the organisation was duplicating many of the services provided by individual institutions' unions.

According to the review, pan-London functions such as campaigning and organising intercollegiate sporting activities should be transferred to other bodies, while the union's Bloomsbury headquarters would be run by the university.

Condemning the decision to close ULU, its president Michael Chessum said the abolition also reflected many colleges' weak commitment to the university and the institution's sense of "mortality" about its own future.

"It is clear that some vice-chancellors are not serious about the existence of the university," he said. "Certain managements have a track record of undermining (it) whenever possible."

His comments reflect continuing questions about whether colleges have outgrown the federal structure of the University of London, which was created in the 19th century.

The ULU review itself notes that individual colleges now provide the full "representational, social, welfare and sporting needs" of almost all the 120,000 students at institutions aligned to London.

"At least 60 per cent of students ... are following (the) degrees of their home institution", rather than London's courses, it adds. …

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