University of Manchester students pass vote of no confidence in boss

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image captionDame Nancy Rothwell

Students at the University of Manchester have passed a vote of no confidence in its vice-chancellor.

Dame Nancy Rothwell faced opposition over the university's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

About 89% of the students who took part in the non-binding vote agreed the student body had "no confidence" in the vice-chancellor and other leaders.

The university said the vote had a 13% turnout and said it had "full confidence" in Dame Nancy.

A spokesperson for the student-led campaign group said the positions of the vice-chancellor and her team had become "completely untenable".

"It's apparent to anyone that the mistreatment of students and mishandling of the pandemic by the university over the past year has become an exemplar of how not to run a university," they said.

University and College Union (UCU) general secretary Jo Grady said the "overwhelming vote" was "no surprise" and said Dame Nancy had treated students "shamefully."

"She irresponsibly brought students back to campus to secure income from fees and rent and then locked them in their accommodation," she said.

image copyrightEwan
image captionStudent relations with the university hit a low when fences surrounded Fallowfield campus

In November, Dame Nancy told BBC Newsnight she had apologised in writing to 19-year-old student Zach Adan, who was allegedly racially profiled by security guards as he returned to his halls of residence.

When it emerged that this had not happened, she apologised again, saying she was "devastated that I made the wrong remark on national television" and had "written to sincerely apologise to the student".

The incident came amid ongoing protests by students who were campaigning for rent reductions after their face-to-face classes were halted.

Protests also erupted on campus during the autumn term as the second lockdown began when a wire fence was erected overnight around accommodation without students being consulted.

Students pulled down the barriers on the University of Manchester's Fallowfield campus in protest.

The referendum was held by the students' union after a petition met the threshold number of signatures to trigger a vote.

In a statement, the university's board of governors said it had "full confidence" in the senior leadership "to lead the university forward".

"Whilst our senior leaders haven't got everything right, where that has been the case, they have led from the front by apologising and have always taken action to ensure lessons are learnt and improvements are made," they said.

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