A paper submitted to a meeting of Imperial College?s Senate (the College?s decision making body on academic matters) yesterday suggests that Imperial College is making preparations to award its own degrees. At present, Imperial College graduates receive a University of London degree.
Under new University of London Ordinances it is now possible for Imperial to both choose to award its own degrees and remain within the University of London, though it is unclear how this might work in practice. Imperial already has its own regulations for awarding undergraduate and masters degrees and only chooses to operate within the University regulations for research degrees for administrative reasons.
A Union response to the meeting, debated at meetings of ICU Executive Committee and Academic Affairs & Welfare Committee on Tuesday, highlights a number of areas of concern for students regarding the college?s plans. Most particularly the Union was concerned about student membership of the University of London Union. In the event of Imperial awarding its own degrees but remaining a part of the University of London, any students registered to obtain non-University of London degrees would not be eligible to join ULU. The Union's response also voiced concerns regarding the loss of access to University of London facilities such as inter-collegiate Halls of Residence in the event of College leaving the University. While the Union has not formally set a policy on this issue, the response from the Union President to Senate notes that ?Secession from the University of London would have a significant negative impact on Imperial students and the Union is opposed to it.?
Live! understands that the Senate meeting took the Union?s concerns onboard and did not really discuss the proposal, presumably recognizing that the only real benefits of exercising degree awarding powers are financial rather than academic. It is also possible that College is mainly interested in preparing to use degree awarding powers so as to improve its position when it comes to renegotiate its subscriptions to the University of London.