Liverpool Hope and charity split

Hope One World quits campus rather than cede control to the university, writes Melanie Newman

Liverpool Hope University has ended a 25-year relationship with its campus-based overseas educational charity, Hope One World (HOW).

HOW has been told to find new premises and will no longer be allowed to use Liverpool Hope's resources after it rejected the university's reform plans.

HOW was set up in the 1980s by staff at Liverpool Hope (then the Liverpool Institute of Higher Education). It sent academics to Tibet to provide teacher training, and soon expanded to other developing countries.

In 1996 it was established as an independent charity, but was permitted to use campus office space and other facilities. University staff were allowed time off to support its work.

In 2007, an independent review recommended that HOW should be subsumed within the university and offer wider opportunities for Liverpool Hope students. "This means that the scale of (HOW) operations will need to be reduced to create space and funding for other activities," the review panel said.

In October 2007, HOW's annual report said "some members of the HOW committee and ... board of trustees (were) significantly apprehensive" about the plans. It noted "a perceived mismatch between the strategic objectives of the university and HOW".

The charity agreed that opportunities for Liverpool Hope students should be widened, but said any new arrangements must respond to the needs of the overseas community.

The charity said "no opportunity for dialogue was forthcoming". It asked to meet Liverpool Hope vice-chancellor Gerald Pillay, but said "the university again made it clear ... HOW had either to accept the recommendations and be taken over by the university or reject them and continue without any future support from (it)".

At an extraordinary general meeting of the charity's members, the university's proposals were rejected.

Educational charity SOS Children's Villages confirmed that it had switched its support from HOW to the university, because HOW's "ability to manage programmes without university support was unproven".

A university spokesman said that "as far as we know", only "two or three" HOW staff members wanted it to remain autonomous, and that all but two of the charity's previous chairs "embraced the changes".

"To ensure that there were no misunderstandings ... it was necessary to insist on a complete separation of the activities of this group from the university," he said.

He said the university's new charity, working in line with the review's recommendations, would "do even more than was achieved over the past 25 years with communities in the developing world".

melanie.newman@tsleducation.com.

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