Leeds Met governors face staff vote of no confidence

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Leeds Met to acquire control of the city’s professional rugby union team in 2007.

The deal has ended up costing the university 10m – 8m of which is the price Leeds Met agreed to pay to relinquish control because of escalating costs.

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Last month it was revealed that Mr Watt had agreed with Mr Lee’s suggestion that governors should not be told of the proposal to take a controlling interest in Guinness Premiership club Leeds Carnegie because Mr Lee said they wouldn’t understand his “chess moves” or have the “slightest idea of the end game”.

As a result, the deal was presented as a fait accompli to governors who did nevertheless rubber-stamp the takeover.

The huge burden of the rugby deal is one of a series of questionable investments Leeds Met has made in outside interests at a time when student satisfaction surveys rank the university among the lowest in the country.

It was also 101st out of 114 in The Times’ latest Good University Guide and last year the Quality Assurance Agency warned there was only limited confidence in academic standards at Leeds Met.

At the same time, spending on partnerships – largely sporting – has continued on a grand scale with 14m alone going on Yorkshire Cricket Club’s new pavilion, which will include educational facilities.

There have also been revelations surrounding the lack of financial controls, with procurement rules broken when awarding contracts, and staff credit cards used to pay for overseas trips for Mr Lee’s wife, even though she was not an employee.

The union is also concerned about the governors’ perceived endorsement of a management style which led to intervention from Health and Safety Executive over allegations of a culture of bullying. Mr Lee stepped down from running the university at the turn of last year after personally being confronted with allegations of bullying, which he denied.

A Leeds Met spokesman said: “The local branch of the UCU has voiced some concerns about past events at the university and the governors of the university want to understand these concerns and have the opportunity to enter into meaningful dialogue. A meeting is scheduled for early February, which we welcome. As a result, it is too soon to comment further.”