Colleges chief is urged to resign

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THE LEADER of the body representing British universities is facing calls for her resignation for accepting the Labour whip in the House of Lords.

Leading vice-chancellors said the life peerage for Diana Warwick, 53, a member of the Neill Committee on Standards in Public Life, would create a conflict of interests. Ms Warwick is chief executive of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, (CVCP) which represents the heads of 111 British universities and colleges.

Professor Graham Zellick, vice-chancellor of London University, resigned from the CVCP and said: "What is happening is grotesque. A very substantial majority of CVCP members think it's not appropriate to have their chief executive as a Labour working peer."

Dr Peter Knight, vice- chancellor of the University of Central England and a member of the CVCP's ruling council, said: "The conflict of interest is obvious, acute and massive. A chief executive of any organisation has to give 110 per cent commitment. Because of understandable party political commitments Diana cannot do key aspects of her job. The CVCP is in danger of becoming the academic wing of the Labour Party, and we must be seen as politically neutral."

Last week the CVCP's governing council voted to allow her to continue in her job. Ms Warwick, who declined to comment, will take her seat in the Lords later this month. She is a former general secretary of the Association of University Teachers, and head of the CVCP staff since 1995. She gives up her seat on the Neill committee in October.