Aiming for autonomy

Looking at how the University’s collegiate system is structured it seems entirely understandable that the College Chairs have found themselves in a position where they feel decisions are being taken without them being consulted. A significant part of the problem is that the centralised decision making on how money is distributed means that JCRCs are kept at arm’s length by simple logistics.

While it is certainly a worrying sign that the College Chairs have felt unable to communicate and effect change, it is also a sign of the times that when £800 failed to appear in the accounts of their respective JCRCs they did not feel that anything needed to be done. It seems remarkable that Jane Grenville only discovered that money had not gone out whilst chatting to a JCRC Chair, over two terms after the money was supposed to go out. It seems to suggest that the Chairs have somewhat lapsed into a posture of supplication that in over six months it did not occur to one of them to pick up the phone and ask the obvious question: “where’s the money?”

The problem is that without any direct link to the people who control the majority of the university’s spending, the effectiveness of the lobbying done by the College Chairs is always diluted. It seems possible that with greater financial independence greater autonomy might naturally evolve, breaking away from the artificial and centrally funded nature of the colleges and progressing towards the kind of loyalty which might loosen purse-strings a few decades later.