Kingston’s outgoing Vice-Chancellor attempted to reassure colleagues about the future of the university in his farewell speech last night.
Sir Peter Scott, Vice-Chancellor at Kingston University for nearly 13 years, addressed assembled colleagues and academics in the packed-out Clattern Lecture Theatre at Penryhn Road campus last night. He focused his speech on the future of higher education in the UK.
In the face of drastic university funding cuts, Sir Peter said that Kingston and other universities like it had a “critical role to play”. He admitted the short term is “very depressing” but he added, “I’m sure we’ll be fine.”
Sir Peter has been outspoken in his condemnation of government policy towards higher education in recent months but tried to restrain his criticism at last night’s speech.
He said: “Many of you know that I am opposed very strongly and very fundamentally to what the government is planning for the future of higher education. I’m not going to offer you a rant.”
Instead, Sir Peter said: “What I want to do is to talk to you a bit more is about the future of higher education in a more measured way, perhaps in a more academic way.”
The Oxford graduate spoke on subjects such as the dangers higher education faces from an “interfering” free-market state, the inequality that he sees arising as a result, and the role of universities as “the R&D department of UK PLC”.
The speech ended with a prolonged round of applause and Professor Jennifer Wen of the Engineering faculty, who was in the audience, broke down in tears. She thanked Sir Peter for employing her and said she would miss him and miss working with him.
Sir Peter is leaving Kingston University to take up a position at the Institute of Higher Education. Professor Julius Weinberg will replace him as Vice-Chancellor in the Spring of next year.