Professor Latchman took up his appointment as Master of Birkbeck and Professor of Genetics on 1st January 2003 and has served with distinction for 16 years.
Birkbeck is the UK’s leading provider of part-time evening Higher Education with a unique mission to widen access and promote lifelong learning amongst working Londoners. Professor Latchman has played a key role in steering Birkbeck through difficulties created by the focus of the UK funding system on 18-year old students studying for full-time three-year degrees.
In particular, in 2007 the College lost 30% of its teaching funding due to the decision by the Government to no longer fund Universities to teach students who already had a first Degree and wished to study for an equivalent or lesser qualification (ELQ) in a different subject. 90% of such ELQ students are studying part-time in order to change or further develop their careers and so this decision caused considerable difficulties for the College. Professor Latchman was instrumental in developing a strategic plan which resulted in the award of a £10 million grant from the Higher Education Council for England (HEFCE). This was used to reach-out to new groups of potential students and in particular to introduce three-year degree programmes allowing working individuals to study in the evening and finish their degree in the same time as full-time day-time students.
Subsequently, Professor Latchman obtained £8 million from HEFCE for a collaborative project with the University of East London (UEL) which resulted in the building of a University Centre in Stratford East London, known as University Square Stratford (USS). This new facility has played a key role in introducing individuals to University study in the area of London with the lowest participation in Higher Education.
Professor Latchman’s consistent advocacy of the needs of part-time students and the Universities which serve them has resulted in fee loans and maintenance loans being available for the first time to part-time undergraduate students. Moreover, when loans for Masters students (both full-time and part-time) were introduced, Birkbeck’s advocacy resulted in the upper age limit of these loans being set at 60 years of age as opposed to the initial proposal to restrict eligibility to those thirty years old or under.
As well as his scientific research interests, (see Research). Professor Latchman has also lectured widely on the ethical aspects of Genetics and Genetic Engineering. His Inaugural Lecture at Birkbeck “Genetic Engineering: Utopian Dream or Eugenic Nightmare?” can be downloaded here. He also gave the JBS Haldane Lecture entitled “The Voice of Homer: Genetic Engineering for the People, thirty years after Haldane”.