I posted a few days ago about the strong position which Leighton Andrews currently enjoys in relation to the future of the University of Wales. Clearly he knows that as well as I do, for he has now called for the resignation of the Chair of Council something over which - technically - he has no control whatsoever. A minister can no more arrange the resignation of a member of a chartered university's Council than he can fire a local scoutmaster.
Here, rather than Wales providing a precedent for London, London provides a precedent for Wales in the form of the London Metropolitan controversy. In that case HEFCE were put to immense difficulty to secure the resignation of the VC and Board, despite the clear case that public funds had been misallocated, the very severe consequent financial and reputational harm done to London Met, and the very strong leverage HEFCE had through control of future grant flows. In this case, the Minister controls little direct grant to the University of Wales as is (£704,000 in 2009/10), but rather more if you add the two other merger partners into the mix. Moreover whilst at London Met Governors and VC stood together, here Leighton Andrews is clearly seeking to separate them and side with the new VC as part of a new regime.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Even at the time, the resistance of the London Met governors seemed astonishing to me, but here the personal responsibility of the Chair of Council is obscure at best. In England there was very strong institutional resistance to allowing the London Met case to form a precedent, but perhaps in Wales institutional leaders are going to be fired with enthusiasm?