News Column

University of Central Lancashire Must Open Up its Books Over Controversial International Investments

February 4, 2014

LONDON , Feb. 4 -- The University and College Union issued the following news: The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has to open up its books and reveal the true cost of a series of disastrous foreign investments, said UCU today. The union has written to the members of the university's board of governors and sent them a copy of its report ' file type icon Empire built on sand: UCLan's great overseas gamble ( ) [62kb]'. The report looks at a series of investments in Sri Lanka, Thailand , China and Cyprus by UCLan which appear to have lost considerable sums of money - possibly raised from public money and assets, and students studying in the UK . The report details how UCLan's 'overseas misadventures' have received some very high profile critics, which include Amnesty International and UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon . It also asks if plans to axe 75 posts and downgrade some teaching posts at the university in the UK are to free up resources for more international investment. The union said it was deeply concerned that Pounds7.5 million had been written off the balance sheet of UCLan's chief holding company, Centralan Holdings . The union added that because of UCLan's complex web of companies, it is impossible to determine just how much the failed overseas projects have cost, or who exactly has funded them. The union cites the Thailand speculative venture as an example of a lack of scrutiny, despite failings and lost money. Originally Pounds5m was invested and more than Pounds3m of that has been lost, yet no one has been held accountable for that loss. The union said it was also concerned that Pounds470,000 of consultancy services provided for the university appeared to have been delivered by the same people who ordered the consultancy work. The union said if UCLan had nothing to hide then it would sit down with the union and go through the books in a clear and transparent way. UCU regional official, Martyn Moss , said: 'When the UN and Amnesty International are drawing attention to your activities, it is time for far more scrutiny. Seventy-five jobs at UCLan are at risk of redundancy and we fear that other teaching posts are going to be downgraded. This cannot offer students value for money, particularly when such important research-based teaching posts are lost or downgraded, which would result in staff who are experts in their academic field departing. 'Are local jobs and wages being put at risk to fund these risky international investments? All we want to do is sit down with the university and go through the figures. At the moment it is impossible to work out what money is going where and why. We want the figures detailed in a clear and transparent way. If there is nothing to hide then there shouldn't be an issue here.' CC AutoTriage1pm-140205-30TagarumaMar-4627128 30TagarumaMar

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Source: Targeted News Service

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