Was Wye’s die cast in 2003?

IMPERIAL College instructed a major consulting firm to draw up a list of options for redeveloping Wye at least two years before it commissioned the Bearman report into the campus’s future, save-wye has learned.

Information released by Imperial College under the Freedom of Information Act shows that ICL instructed Ernst & Young as long ago as the summer of 2003 to advise it on the future of Wye.

This was less than three years after Imperial took over Wye and came a year before the announcement of a restructuring of the life sciences faculty which was billed as an attempt to stem annual losses of £3.5million.

It was also 12 months before KCC representatives first met ICL in August 2004 to discuss options for Wye. Documents already released to save-wye by KCC have shown that at a meeting with ICL in March 2005, county councillors and officers feared that plans for a hi-tech science park could be “taken abroad”. The revelation that Ernst & Young had already been reporting on the future of Wye for nearly two years at that point, will fuel fears that officers and councillors were shown a consultancy report which suggested research could be moved overseas.

The employment of Ernst & Young pre-dated the appointment of Professor Bearman to look at the future of the Wye campus by almost 18 months. At the time of the restructuring of the life sciences faculty in Wye, ICL’s Deputy Rector, Prof Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, said: “The faculty’s presence at Wye campus in its current configuration is not economically viable. However, the focus of our restructuring is the performance of individuals in the faculty, and their contribution to its academic strategy, not the campus, and the College will take forward options for the Wye campus under a separate review. A date for this review will be announced this term.”

However, in a response to a request for disclosure of all contractors used by ICL in relation to the Wye Concordat and the dates of their engagement, ICL has responded this week that “prior to the signing of the Wye Concordat, Ernst & Young have been providing advice to the College, from time to time, since the third quarter of 2003”.

save-wye has made a further request for disclosure of all documents produced by Ernst & Young in relation to the Wye campus.

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About David Hewson

Professional novelist, published in more than 20 languages. Creator of the Nic Costa series set in modern Rome. Most recent book the novel of the Danish TV series, The Killing.
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