The position of and response from government (, including from a number of senior ministers, on the Toby Young appointment to #OfficeforStudents damages further the reputation of UK higher education, including in its governance & regulation.
Urgent debate needed in Parliament on the procedure followed by government in this appointment in view of extensive comments made by the appointee that appear to be incompatible with public office; & which are not erased by inadequate apology.
The Commissioner for Public Appointments must investigate complaints about the way a department has handled an appointments process or if it appears that the Governance Code may not have been followed
Current commissioners might also consider whether their continuing appointment lends legitimacy if this recent problematic appointment persists, compromising #OfS.
Concerns expressed by hundreds of thousands of people (including by other MPs, contributors to #NoToTobyYoung & many others) helped secure this appropriate resignation from #OfficeforStudents, England.

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More from @dermotfeenan

Feb 16, 2021
A thread in which I set out concerns with the UK government’s plan for addressing free speech in universities.

Given existing reliable surveys on free speech, the plan is misplaced, and, even on its own logic, will likely be counterproductive.
The BBC report doesn’t cite evidence justifying such intervention. While there are instances of some censorship on campuses, these are not sufficiently widespread to justify the government’s measures, which are akin to using sledgehammers to crack a nut.
There are already free speech laws governing universities. The Education (No. 2) Act 1986 provides for “such steps as are reasonably practicable to ensure that freedom of speech within the law is secured for members, students and employees”.…
Read 30 tweets
Feb 14, 2021
A significant development in external investigation of university management in England, here through a power statutorily conferred on the Office for Students ('OfS') (@officestudents). [1/8]…
The Guardian refers to Ofs’ ‘powers to scrutinise whether members of senior university management meet a test for being “fit and proper” to exercise their roles.’ The report doesn’t mention the basis of the powers. I set out below what I believe that basis to be. [2/8]
The Higher Education and Research Act 2017, s. 13(1)(b), confers power on the OfS to include in the initial or ongoing registration conditions for higher education providers a public interest governance condition. [3/8]…
Read 9 tweets
Dec 24, 2020
Sloppy, unethical, and unprofessional article by Gabriella Swerling in her Daily Telegraph article earlier this week.

Swerling smears Professor Corinne Fowler (@corinne_fowler) as ‘[t]he “woke” National Trust academic who has been reviewing its links with colonialism.’ [1/11]
Professor Fowler is not a ‘National Trust academic’. She is employed by the University of Leicester and was seconded to the Trust in 2019-2020 to conduct research; one of the outcomes from which is a co-edited report published by the Trust (referred to further below). [2/11]
I have found no record of any of the sources cited by Swerling – Andrew Roberts, Oliver Dowden, Nigel Huddleston or, indeed, members of the Common Sense Group – referring publicly to Professor Fowler as ‘woke’, not that I would think it appropriate if they did. [3/11]
Read 11 tweets
Dec 24, 2020
Further press coverage of Durham County Council’s sanctions against Councillor David Boyes following my complaint about his communication in respect of Travellers. This coverage focuses on the Hearing Panel’s reasoning and Councillor Boyes’ apology. [1/6]…
The coverage notes that right up to the hearing Councillor Boyes denied that his communications amounted to a breach of the Code. While the coverage correctly refers to the Panel’s view that Cllr Boyes’ actions were ‘careless’,
it does not refer to the Investigating Officer’s findings – with which the Panel agreed – which include: (1) Cllr Boyes’ ‘liking of the offensive comments did amount to a failure to treat those who were the subject of such comments with respect’ contrary to the Code, and
Read 8 tweets
Dec 24, 2020
Press coverage of Durham County Council’s sanctions against Councillor David Boyes for his communications in respect of Travellers – by James Harrison/@JHarrisonLDR, Local Democracy Reporter, Sunderland Echo: who I commend for covering this story so well.…
'The panel also rejected suggestions by Mr Feenan that Cllr Boyes should resign his position as chairman of the county council’s Safer and Stronger Communities Scrutiny Committee, which carries a special responsibility allowance worth £2,660.' Interesting detail by @JHarrisonLDR.
Important to add that the Council upheld the Investigating Officer’s findings, including that Cllr Boyes’ ‘liking of the offensive comments did amount to a failure to treat those who were the subject of such comments with respect’ contrary to the Code, and ...
Read 5 tweets
Dec 21, 2020
Durham County Council has upheld my complaint that Councillor David Boyes breached its Code of Conduct for communications in respect of Travellers. This would appear to be the first time in England that a councillor has been so held to account for such communications. [1/16]
The grounds for the complaint are already set out by me: . In summary: on 7 May 2020, Cllr Boyes posted on a Facebook site he shared with another councillor a video of scorch damage from barbeque trays and littering on and around a picnic table.
The table was in a picnic area in a nature reserve in the Easington constituency which Cllr Boyes represents. The video was accompanied by a comment from Cllr Boyes linking the ‘state’ of the tables with Travellers. That post attracted a number of comments which he liked.
Read 16 tweets

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