College granted degree-awarding powers
30 September 2005
UCL today announced it had been granted degree-awarding powers, raising new questions about the future of the University of London.
UCL is the largest constituent college of the University of London, which traditionally awards degrees on behalf of its members' colleges, and it is the latest in a line of London colleges to seek its own powers amid a debate about the future of the federal university.
The London School of Economics and King's College London are already seeking degree-awarding powers and Imperial, which already has the rights, has been debating using them. Traditionally the provision for membership of the university included the promise that colleges would award university degrees, rather than their own.
But some colleges have been unhappy about the large subscription they pay to the university amid claims that they don't need to buy into the internationally renowned University of London brand.
UCL stressed that it didn't intend to use the powers, but was acting on advice from the central university for colleges to seek the ability to award their own degrees ahead of the conclusions of the debate over the university's future.
Malcolm Grant, the president and provost of UCL said: "While there is a clear understanding that the powers are to be held in reserve rather than exercised straight away, I believe that it is in the interests of UCL academics and students for these powers to be available to us to invoke as necessary.
"This is especially so at a time when the University of London is consulting about its future as a federal university."
In July, Graeme Davies, the head of the 125,000-student university, which was established to rival Oxford and Cambridge and has a membership of 19 colleges, told the Guardian: "The only requirement of being a college of the university is that you don't exercise the degree-awarding powers, but it's fine to have them in the filing cabinet.
"We do have a protocol that says should they want to exercise [degree-awarding powers] on a limited basis they have to persuade the heads of colleges committee that it would be appropriate."