University of Leicester: Ongoing Mismanagement of Staff and Data

We would like draw attention to the University of Leicester’s mistreatment of tutors working for Vaughan Centre for Lifelong Learning.

The University of Leicester has – deliberately yet surreptitiously – demoted tutors teaching on part-time evening and distance learning degree course to visiting staff status.  During 2016, they reduced tutors’ library book borrowing limits from 40 to a meagre 10 items.  To put this into context, our very own undergraduate students can borrow 30 books!  Tutors have also been forced to revert to flimsy, paper library cards, reminiscent of the pre-digital age.

As part of this demotion process, the University of Leicester has also insisted that some VCLL tutors change their email addresses, even when the latter have been using their account for decades.  In one instance, the IT department committed a serious blunder during the migration process, and mistakenly redirected a number of emails to a staff member in another department – emails which included a list of student module grades.  This is clearly a major confidentiality issue, as well as a violation of the Data Protection Act (DPA).

Furthermore, the University of Leicester has banned contracted staff across the organisation from commenting publicly on the current redundancy consultation process.  Staff have been assured by HR that undertaking such an act would result in their dismissal.



Thank you from the campaign team

vaughanThis is a very difficult blog to write, as unfortunately it is the one that reports how the University of Leicester Council voted not to save the Vaughan Centre for Lifelong Learning, in fact they approved the recommendation to disestablish it.  It is with a heavy heart that I write this, not only do I feel this decision is so backwards and wrong, but it is deeply upsetting that the University did not listen to all the opposition, they did not listen to reason and local will.  However, this blog is not to lament, criticise and rant about the University of Leicester’s short-sighted decision (that will come later), rather it is a thank you.

Thank you to each and every person who supported us.

Thank you to all the petition signers, as a campaign team we read all of your comments; they gave us heart in our darkest hours (the way the University treated us there were a few of these).  Thank you to all our Facebook and Twitter followers, thanks for sharing, re-tweeting and responding to our posts.  Thank you also for standing by us when we vented our frustration, it was hard at times with a University who would not talk to us during their ‘genuine consultation’.

Thank you to the Political will that came behind the campaign, the whole of the city council, the mayor and the three MPs all put in protests against this closure.  A special name check has to go to the brilliant Vijay, who came in on day one and gave us so much support, tabling the opposition debate at city hall – where we heard wonderful and passionate speeches by the councillors.  Again, Sue Waddington, who spoke passionately at our rally and met with the management team on more than one occasion to try to dissuade them – thank you.  Also Jon Ashwoth MP, the support you and your team gave us was so crucial, thank you for coming out and speaking on our behalf.

Thank you to the bloggers who got behind us (thoughts of a Leicester Socialist; Liberal England; the Learning Professor; Counselling Leicester; the Learning Age; Adventures in Career Development; Katyboo1), you blogged passionately and often personally on our behalf, your stories and points of view were so brilliant, we truly valued your contributions.  Thank you to all the tweeters who shared their stories of part-time  learning and how it changed their lives, it was so motivating to know how important and relevant lifelong learning has been in transforming peoples’ lives.

Thank you to the media who publicised the closure and gave air time to our campaign and the newspapers who wrote about us too.

Thank you to those who stood up and spoke out for us at our rallies, your speeches, poems and stories made them successful.  Also thanks to those who came and stood with us to support our campaign, showing adult learning is something important.

Even though with all of this we did not change the University of Leicester’s path, the ‘strategic’ vision of Paul Boyle that seems unshakeable, untouched by local opinion, we did show that adult learning is still relevant.  At the beginning of this campaign we did not know whether it would just be a handful of people shouting into space, trying to be heard and failing.  We are so pleased it was not the case, we have all shown that there is an appetite for lifelong learning, not only in Leicester but further afield too.  That high quality counselling training is needed, and this area wants these courses to stay and to help those in most need.  That people want to study and work together at the same time and should be able to do so.  Ironically the University did open a dialogue, unfortunately this was not a dialogue they entered into themselves.

Therefore, we may not have saved Vaughan at the University of Leicester, but we will look to the future and we will do our best to make sure this provision continues.  We owe it to the city, the supporters, the future students and to David Vaughan himself, whose vision to educate the working people of Leicester is no less important today than it was then.  Inequality has not disappeared,  but places like Vaughan need to be kept to fight this and help people who missed out the first time get the education they want and deserve.

#savevaughan #vaughanfuture

The OffTheBoyle Period (also known as the Vaughan Closure Controversy)

Found on Wikipedia, sadly taken down:  The OffTheBoyle Period (also known as the Vaughan Closure Controversy)

The University’s darkest period came between 2014-2016 following the appointment of a new vice chancellor, professor Paul Boyle. The time that followed this has come to be known as the OffTheBoyle period, this was due to the heavy handed tactics used by Prof. Boyle and his management team including Mark Peel, Martyn Riddlesworth and Julie Coleman. Their tactics included indiscriminately sacking staff because they didn’t like their research areas, and getting rid of the Vaughan Centre of Lifelong Learning and the University Bookshop because they said they didn’t make enough money. All the time they were paying Prof. Boyle over £300,000, that was twice the earnings of the prime minister and the 12 members of the University Management cost the University £2m in pay, pension and pay related costs. The Vaughan Centre cost less than £1m to run. This was followed with a period of uprising from staff, who gave a vote of no confidence in the management. However, the management did not listen and eventually the university imploded, including the brand new and expensive piazza that has been built. The University you see today is a rebuilt replica.

Save Vaughan Timeline



So as the day arrives when University Council meets to decide the future of Vaughan, here’s a summary of all the different kinds of support that the Campaign has received.

Let’s begin with Leicester’s three MPs who have all written to the Vice Chancellor protesting against the closure and made their letters public on their web-sites.

Liz Kendall has written twice, while Jon Ashworth received the Save Vaughan petition on BBC Radio Leicester and wrote about the Centre is the Leicester Mercury’s ‘In the House’ column.  The  MP for Leicester South also released a video of the petition handover to him on 26 August and he appeared on East Midlands Today earlier this week. The City Council, including the Mayor, passed a unanimous motion against the closure and Councillor Riyait has been very active on the Campaign’s behalf.  The Green Party issued a press release condemning the Centre’s closure and a campaigner blog was hosted by Liberal England. Other local MPs have expressed concern to the Vice Chancellor, particularly about the impact on counselling provision.

Five national papers have carried letters and articles against the closure: two pieces in Private Eye, articles in the Sunday Express and the Morning Star, an open letter from 35 academics printed in the Daily Telegraph, a letter in the Times Higher Educational Supplement, and an article in Post-16 Educator.  The Universities Association of Lifelong Learning, a national body, has condemned the closure.

Members of the Campaign have been interviewed for BBC Radio Leicester at least 8 times (I have lost count!) – they have had rather more air time than the University who has generally refused to send  a representative.  East Midlands Today has done two features on the ‘consultation’, interviewing students and tutors (oh yes and Professor Peel – was he washing his hands of us or rubbing his hands with glee?).

The Leicester Mercury has reported on the campaign on around 9 different occasions – not including a report of the ‘non confidence’ vote regarding the Vice Chancellor. The paper has printed many letters from a whole variety of people:  University unions, students, a city councillor, ex-students and associate tutors plus an open letter from 49 academic and counselling bodies.  The closure has appeared in local newsletters around the county including Labour’s Clarendon Matters and the Evington Echo.

An online petition addressed to the Vice Chancellor has 2958 signatories and there are a further 50 signatures on a paper version of the petition.   Another petition to University Council in early July collected over 226 signatures in a single day.

There have been 7 other people who have bloggers who have spoken out against closure (thoughts of a Leicester Socialist; Liberal England; the Learning Professor; Counselling Leicester; the Learning Age; Adventures in Career Development; Katyboo1). Counselling Leicester stated: ‘we couldn’t be more shocked and upset by this news. Vaughan houses some of the best psychodynamic counselling training in the Midlands and closure of such prestigious training will have far reaching consequences within the counselling community and within local mental health and support services’.


The University of Leicester’s unions have argued against closure. Leicester DWP Branch of the PCS issued a statement against it. The threat to Vaughan was raised at a joint UCU/NUT education rally. Unite Community have been supporting the Campaign.

Campaigners have also been supported by the Student’s Union who ran a survey collecting students’ opinions.  This was the only time students were actively consulted as the University itself has failed to make any effort to consult with students, in spite of all that it says about the centrality of their voice in the Strategic Plan and the OFFA agreement.

We know that a whole variety of people – not just from Leicester but from UK and beyond – have written to members of the University Leadership Team including to the Vice Chancellor himself. Others have also written to chair of the University Council.  We don’t know the numbers of correspondence to these individuals and to the Vaughan and Askus email addresses. We did ask that some statistical analysis of this correspondence be presented to Council but the enthusiasm for this was not high.  We like to think that there has been just so many that they have lost count…

Finally, and not least, are all the people who turned to the various events organised by the Campaign Team: the stall on the Queen’s Road, the ‘show of support’ outside the Town Hall on 14 July, the petition handover, the living Victorian Tableau which celebrated Vaughan during the City Festival, the history tour of adult education in Leicester and the choral evensong celebrating Vaughan at the Cathedral.

There are a lot of people who care about Saving Vaughan.  Given the strength of the support for the Campaign against the closure at all levels, the University of Leicester leadership team have shown utter contempt for this by advising the Centre’s disestablishment last week.

The University Leadership have three members on the Council; Vaughan has none.  We don’t know if Council members have followed the Campaign. So we need as many people to turn up to the Lobby today so that they know we all care.

Fingers crossed today that the University Council at least values the reputation of the University of Leicester, if not the views of so many different and high profile people, and votes ‘No’ to closure.

Vaughan Centre: reading between the lines (Round 2)


We all needed at least a cup of tea after Round 1, but there is more to come from Kate Godfrey, the Provost, Professor Mark Peel, and their underpinning ‘proof text’ – the statistics presented by the University on its web-site and in correspondence during the ‘consultation process’.

Shorter and sweeter – two themes here – the present and the future… don’t get them confused…

and remember, as Professor Peel said on air, ‘Vaughan has often shown the way’.


The Present

at the moment we’re doing that better across the rest of the University and as an indication only 6 percent of the part-time courses are delivered through Vaughan. 30 percent of our students are part-time, 60 percent of those students are what we call Lifelong Learners (Kate Godfrey, Radio Leicester, 26th September)

‘Across the rest of the University’ provides a very broad context for this statement. It is true that the University of Leicester has a lot of part-time learners.

The University continues to support all modes of study and particularly part-time and distance learners who account for 31% of the total student population (6,184 based on 2014/15 annual review). 63% of these PT/DL students are mature learners.

However, these part-time students are nearly all post-graduates. In 2014/5 there were 6184 students on part-time courses across the University, but only 91 were home undergraduates studying part-time.

Part-time study is a popular and often a necessary route to an MA  or other higher qualification, but it is different from the part-time undergraduate courses offered through the Vaughan Centre.

Post-graduate students are nearly always over 21. They are ‘mature’ by definition. So it is no surprise that over sixty percent of them are (or probably self identify) as ‘mature learners’ or as Kate Godfrey glosses it, ‘Lifelong Learners’.

The number of part-time courses (and the levels of students) at Vaughan are unsurprisingly small compared with the broad range of post-graduate qualifications offered through University of Leicester (hence 6 percent).

It is important to understand what these figures really are, as they surely lie behind the University’s statement that Vaughan’s contribution to the delivery of part-time courses seen as a ‘proportion’ is too small to justify its continuation: It is the University’s view that the level of annual subsidy required to continue delivering the proportion of our part-time and flexible learning courses from Vaughan is unsustainable.

The University also has trouble remembering which of these courses are open to new students at present and how many there are exactly, see the unpicking of claims of over 100 distance learning courses in Private Eye.

 offering more part-time learning across the University we can deliver the same outcomes but slightly more cost effectively’ (Kate Godfrey 26th August)

Let’s look at what’s happening at the moment. In 2014/5 there were those 91 home undergraduates studying part-time across the University. There are 8 part-time courses for undergraduate study currently offered (outside the Vaughan and Highfields Centre). Four are accessible distance learning courses. Four are part-time routes for Humanities disciplines for students who have conventional qualifications and are able to study in the day time.

The latter four courses have no registered students at present, making them, at least ‘slightly’ more cost effective, but possibly less educationally effective.

Innovations such as lecture capture, Minors or the extension of the length of the teaching day are implicitly presented as answers to this current very low level of part-time undergraduate provision. After all, the University claims it ‘remains deeply committed to widening participation and lifelong learning and to placing new flexible study at the heart of our education delivery’. The closure of VCLL enables the University leadership to push these changes more forcibly on main campus – no one can say, ‘but students who want flexibility or fringe hours teaching can go to Vaughan’.

But this meagre present is also why it is so important for the University to talk about the future..

Back to the Future

During the closure of the Vaughan College building in 2013 the University gave repeated public assurances which have often figured in this debate. For example, the University of Leicester web-site still displays this page:

‘Vaughan College move underlines our commitment to adult learning’.


  1. 5 of the Strategic Plan, developed under the current University management, also declares a general commitment to ‘Being accountable for our actions and promises’. And in the eyes of many, a ‘promise’ has been broken.

When questioned on Radio Leicester (13th September), the Provost, Professor Mark Peel said of the University’s commitment:

I don’t see it as a pledge, I see it as a challenge.

Vaughan has often shown the way. What I would say is that we are asking whether there are other ways and better ways to meet that pledge, to meet that obligation.

A pledge or promise binds to the past… ‘a challenge’ (like mandate) appears to orientate itself to the future. The University’s argument is that the obligation/ commitment remains, but centralised, specialist provision of mature Higher Education, as at the Vaughan Centre, is no longer the way.

Vaughan can now ‘show the way’ by nobly giving place to ‘other and better ways’, having served its purpose. In the words of the minutes of Senate, ‘in developing the University’s approach to the ongoing challenge of widening participation and encouraging lifelong learning. A statement in the Leicester Mercury on September 10th spoke more specifically about, ”developing opportunities for lifelong learning within our colleges and departments’ and the intention that ‘the University will develop new courses for adults’.

The promise of the good things that are to come also helps to allay any concerns about the apparent loss of provision. As, for example, in the minutes of Senate: ‘It was also noted that widening-participation measures were increasingly embedded within all University departments and the model operated by the Vaughan Centre, whilst having much to commend it, did not represent only or arguably the most effective method of delivering adult education’ (note this is ‘widening participation’ -important – but distinct from Lifelong Learning).

Moreover, the University states, ‘we are confident that none of the proposed changes will impact on our access in improving student access, or our record in delivery with regard to adult and flexible education delivery’

There is a very practical reason why it is important to the University to stress that nothing of particular value is lost from the closure of Vaughan – that a yet more excellent way is opening up. This is less about the promises they have made to the City of Leicester and its leaders and the staff and students of the University and more about the promises they have made to OFFA – the Office for Fair Access. This is the agreement the University needs to have in place in order to be able to charge the maximum undergraduate fee. This has very serious financial implications.

Until recently the 2016/7 OFFA agreement included the University’s assurance that, ‘We invest significantly (note invest not subsidise) in work to reach out to prospective students, and in our Vaughan College of Lifelong Learning who co-ordinate our locally delivered part-time degree programmes’. Tellingly, Vaughan’s work was described as one of the elements of the University ‘enabling a wide range of learners to access Higher Education, for whom this would otherwise not be possible’.

The revised agreement affirms, ‘an unyielding commitment to wider participation in higher education and [and that they] will do everything we can to enable the access and success of any student whose potential would best be developed by our approach to learning’. One might question whether stopping recruitment and closing the Vaughan Centre before there is any visible sign of a practical alternative for those ‘for whom’ access to Higher Education ‘would otherwise not be possible’ is really the best expression of ‘doing everything we can’ to fulfil this ‘unyielding commitment’….

After the proposed closure (and obviously before the University Council makes their decision tomorrow), the paragraph about Vaughan was revised to read, ‘The University offers a wide range of part-time study across a range of departments and centres’. As you will remember, there are lots of ‘courses’, for example, at Attenborough Arts, but in the last year for which figures are available, there were just 91 mature part-time undergraduates outside Vaughan. As this year, because of the suspension of recruitment, there only be the new Highfields Centre students recruited through Vaughan, the figures for mature part-time undergraduates might be rather low.

The University of Leicester’s problems with the retention of mature learners have been described in an earlier blog. The new OFFA agreement also admits the failure to meet recruitment targets for this group, who will become increasingly important as ‘customers’ when the number of 18 year olds falls in a year or two. It also, you will be pleased to hear, sets out a ‘cross-departmental team’ to develop an innovative range of programmes for them and ‘independent research specifically commissioned by the University of Leicester’. This is clearly much more cost-effective than speaking to their own department who have 150 years of experience of dealing with mature learners.


‘We see….’: University of Leicester’s vision of the future

Professor Mark Peel presented the proposed closure of Vaughan as the start of a ‘conversation’.. and it is a ‘conversation’ about different visions of the future..

Let the reader judge what the planned closure of Vaughan says about:

who the University is for;

how it perceives its responsibility to future local adult and part-time learners;

and whether there is any current evidence that it has ‘new ways, maybe even better ways’ of meeting these once the Vaughan Centre is disestablished.

Indeed, whether it is wise or legitimate to ‘disestablish’ the Vaughan Centre and threaten all its work in the vague hope of ‘something better’.

The difficult thing about this is that we also think this is about focus, about the University focussing on the things that a University focus on the things that a University is best able to do. I’m not expecting that people will stand up and cheer about that decision…

But I think one of the things that the people of Leicester would want is

 a University that knows what its good at and

a University that knows what its for and who its for.

Vaughan Centre: reading between the lines (Round 1)



In early June 2016 the University of Leicester began a 90-day ‘consultation’ on a business case proposing the closure of the Vaughan Centre for Lifelong Learning and suspended student recruitment to all but a single course offered at the Highfields Centre.

At 10am on the morning after the consultation period ended the University Leadership Team met and unanimously agreed a proposal (possibly modified from the business case from June) to uphold the plan to disestablish the Vaughan Centre. This will be considered at a specially arranged meeting of the University Council on Friday 16th September (the Council would have expected their autumn quarterly meeting to fall in mid November).

The Provost, Professor Mark Peel, said on BBC Radio Leicester on Tuesday 13th September, ‘we asked a question -was the kind of education in which Vaughan has been so successful over the years the best model for the future – the most efficient – the most effective’.

The terminology of ‘question’ and ‘conversation’ is soothing, but the actions of the University suggest their preference for closure is overwhelming. The reasons for this are more elusive and have shifted during the long weeks of ‘consultation’. Financial necessity was urged at first, then a subtler push for future ‘effectiveness’ and a shadowy reference to ‘strategic vision’.

This analysis is based on a transcript of the most recent public statements. It examines some of the language used and arguments put forward. The reader should pay careful attention. References to ‘courses’ and ‘adult education’ and phrases such as ‘flexible’ and ‘Widening Participation’ all sound good, but can be misleading.



‘the problem is that we’re really committed to WP – getting as many people into education as we can’ we do this ‘slightly better across the rest of the University than Vaughan’ . This phrase opened a description of the background and previous qualifications of students at Vaughan compared with University as a whole. (Kate Godfrey 26th August)

WP is helping people who are traditionally under-represented at University – this might relate to their gender, race or background. This claim that the rest of the University is ‘slightly better’ or ‘better than’ Vaughan presumably references this statistic quoted on the University’s web-site.

‘The proportion of our student population who are classed as undergraduate, mature students from a deprived background is almost exactly the same across the University (18%) as it is within VCLL (17%)’

All student statistics represent lives potentially transformed by education, but it is worth looking at the numbers behind the figures here. This statistic refers to a measure of socio-economic deprivation based on neighbourhood and is the measure of deprivation Universities deploy when reporting to the Office for Fair Access and Higher Education Funding Council for England. The number here represents students who live in the most deprived 20 percent of locations in the UK. These figures compare mature Home students studying for a degree. In 2014-5 there were 124 such students at VCLL and 194 across the rest of the University.

The single percentage point ‘better’ achieved on main campus represents 14 students. This was in a year when Vaughan Centre’s community-based courses at the Highfields Centre in Leicester’s inner City was not open for recruitment. When the second most deprived neighbourhoods are added to the first VCLL emerges as ‘more effective’, recruiting 38 percent in contrast to 36 percent across the rest of the University.

Also mentioned here was the fact more people studying at Vaughan Centre have a first degree. This relates to two statements presented by the University.

Nearly half the students starting a VCLL course already have some level of higher education qualification, with 26% of the 2014/15 intake having at least a full first degree.

There are two factors to note here.

The first is that the Vaughan Centre offers an accessible route into Higher Education (you don’t need ‘A’ levels or other such qualifications). So many students studying for a degree at VCLL have already gained their Certificate (accessible year one of a degree) through Vaughan.

The second factor reflected in these numbers is the popularity of the Counselling programme. Counselling is typically and probably best pursued after life experience. It is almost entirely a subject for mature students. Counselling students are working towards becoming a professional practitioner. They may already have a degree in another subject, but this does not take away the need to study this new and demanding discipline from the beginning.

‘we feel – by changing – making degrees more flexible – (Kate Godfrey 26th August)

The University is keen to promote its introduction of new ‘minor pathways’ as a form of flexible study ‘akin to’ ‘Lifelong Learning’. Whatever the long-term ambitions of the University with regard to ‘fringe hours’ teaching and lecture capture, the current scheme for teaching minors is firmly Monday to Friday, 9 to 5. With Minors, the programme structure is more ‘flexible’, but the hours of study and therefore the access of those with working and caring responsibilities is unchanged. They cannot make use of the new ‘flexibility’.

we understand that students ‘really enjoyed their experience.. we’re delighted by that’ (Kate Godfrey 26th August)

This sounds like a very innocent statement – ‘motherhood and apple-pie’. And, the University of Leicester have been keen to stress that their recommendation for the closure is tinged with, as the Senate minutes put it, ‘sincere appreciation for the work that the Vaughan Centre has undertaken over many years’.

However, this statement betrays either a failure to understand what the Vaughan Centre offers or a cynical attempt to ‘trivialise it’.

Through most of its history, the honourable tradition of University-sponsored Lifelong Learning to which Leicester’s Vaughan Centre belongs, included ‘non-accredited’ courses, undertaken for the joy of learning alone. However, in more recent years, such provision at University of Leicester has been offered through other sources, most notably, the Attenborough Arts Centre, re-located from LLL to the branch of the University which sells conferences and sandwiches.

The Vaughan Centre as it is now offers Higher Education to adults. The ‘joy of learning’ inspires students and tutors. However, these are degree courses, with all the rigour, slog and heart-ache, the standards, discipline and external scrutiny of any of such University courses.

To the casual listener, references to ‘enjoyment’ conjure up the prospect of an ‘evening class’ – a bit of polite and ‘rational recreation’ for the well-meaning lower middle classes. Pleasant, ‘worthy’, but hardly the core duty of a University.

The truth is ‘evening classes’ of every sort do change people’s lives in subtle and profound ways. But Higher Education ‘evening classes’ such as those at Vaughan are particularly far reaching in the qualifications they enable.

Mature student access to Higher Education enables people with a wealth of life-experience to become trained counsellors and teachers. It equips people already engaged in the community with the knowledge and intellectual tools to address problems such as addiction and environmental damage. It recruits potential researchers into the Humanities, people  who go on to study for post-graduate qualifications and make significant research contributions. Such students invariably pass on their knowledge and enthusiasm to those around them, reaching out to others and building up the fabric of civil society.

If you really believe in the Vaughan mandate, which is to develop the skills in Leicester to help us have really prosperous, successful people working here (Kate Godfrey 26th August)

The Vaughan mandate sounds like a ‘new phrase’ that we will hear again as this process unfolds. It is chosen to sound more ‘future-orientated’, more political, more directive and less ‘dusty’ than the words which carry a sense of the burden of history, such as ‘legacy’ and ‘tradition’.

Perhaps we will hear more of the Vaughan mandate, particularly if Professor Peel’s recent radio reference to Vaughan ‘often’ showing ‘the way’ means more than us having the dubious privilege of being the first of a procession of individuals and areas of work to plummet into the abyss in the name of Strategic transformation.

The ‘Vaughan name’ is clearly one the trade-able goods left at the end of the ‘disestablishment’ process, one which the University can enjoy bestowing with minimum expense or trouble once the teach out is complete. With this we can wait and see what happens when the music stops…

so we’ve got a lot more LLL going on across the road and we’re really looking at how we can make sure that we have as many people come in as possible (Kate Godfrey 26th August)

Those of you who remember the controversy around the 2013 Vaughan College move will remember that we used to be ‘down in the town’. Now we are ‘over the road’. Although, of course, we do our teaching on the ‘hallowed ground ‘ of the main campus.

Here a gap opens between Vaughan and ‘the University’ – the distancing necessary for disestablishment has begun. While #savevaughan campaign has set itself in opposition to the University over its proposal to close Vaughan, the fact remains that the Vaughan in its various guises has been ‘part’ of the University since 1929. When ‘they’ seek our closure, on the grounds that ‘they’ are ‘better’ than us, they are ‘briefing’ against another part of the University.


Written out of History…. and the future..? Vaughan and the University of Leicester


History is written by the victors… ‘the lions’.. they say.

If so the University of Leicester already feel confident in their new, ‘Vaughan-free’ narrative.

This is their time-line has been on display since before the graduation ceremonies. It is presented on the boards which screen the ‘new piazza’ as it follows the Jubilee Square in Leicester on the familiar journey from car park to prestige project.

‘Our History’ – for the University of Leicester – begins in 1921, in the aftermath of the First World War. The archive pictures are charming, the narrative is engaging, the time-line tasteful.

The founding of the University College Leicester is an inspiring story of personal loss transformed into civic philanthropy. An institution created from the tragedy of war, but fuelled by hope for a better future. Those whose sons would never come home sought to support the dreams and potential of other people’s children, particularly local people.

But there an absence – that blank door panel on the left. The pre-history of Higher Education in Leicester. The Leicester Working Men’s College, later Vaughan College, had already been teaching adults in Leicester since 1862.

When it joined the Uni College in 1929  – it had a much larger student body than the proto University. For all the intrigues along the way, by its 150th Anniversary it was celebrated as ‘the University of Leicester’s Vaughan College’… whose ‘values reflect the University’s credentials for being ‘elite without being elitist’.

The University of Leicester used to see this stirring tale of Adult Education as ‘our history’, but no longer. As they push for the disestablishment of the Vaughan Centre and as they cast about for others potentially interested in the ‘Vaughan’ name once the courses are taught out in 2020 – the rhetoric shifts – a sense of ‘us’ and ‘them’ appears. ‘They’ on main campus are better than us ‘over the road’. As they prepare for amputation, this limb is not just no longer required, it is no longer really part of the body.

Sometime next Friday afternoon, 16th September the University Council, the ultimate decision-making body, will debate and settle the fate of the Vaughan Centre. By tea time the successor to this 150 year old institution potentially have been chloroformed by an educational institution in the name of a vague but ‘brighter’ future of mature and part-time provision delivered ‘differently’.

Written out of past and denied a future…is this something that you are prepared to witness unopposed?

Do you think that the University of Leicester should simply blank out the future of the Vaughan Centre as it has ‘white-washed’ it from its past?

If not, come and stand with us outside the University between 1pm and 2pm on Friday to show the University of Council what you feel. The Vaughan Institution in its various forms has served Leicester since 1862 and been part of the University of Leicester’s history since 1929, there is still a hope it could contribute to their common future.