Leading Article: Lessons to learn

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The Independent Online

London Metropolitan University's governors must conclude from Sir David Melville's report (see page 5) that they should have built in mechanisms to ensure they were properly informed. As it was, they didn't know what was going on.

Sir David thinks ignorance is no excuse. He believes that the governors should have asked questions about the student drop-out rate and the shambolic data collection. The university's excuse for the poor data was that it had two systems to reconcile as a result of the merger of the University of North London and London Guildhall University in 2002 to form London Met. But that merger was seven years ago. The university had industrial action for a year after that. But that is no excuse either. Other former polytechnics do not have such problems. Moreover, London Met's computers did not have data checks, so the wrong information was being reproduced year after year, thereby masking a much bigger problem.

The first thing the new bosses must do is invest in new staff and software to ensure that students are being counted correctly. Then they should look at how the students are being treated. Only then can we say that London Met is recovering.

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