Consultation

The Scottish Government are now consulting on a new bill to reform higher education governance in Scotland. UCU Scotland supports the proposals but wants the Scottish Government to go further. We want open elections for chairs of governing bodies, transparency over principals' pay, a new agreed definition of academic freedom and for governing bodies to be more representative.

We know that those who oppose making higher education more open will make their voices heard. If you agree with UCU's proposals then please consider making your own submission to the consultation and support our call to make our universities more democratic, representative and transparent.

You can find the Scottish Government's consultation here.

Background

HEC welcomed the outcome of the review of higher education governance in Scotland, published in January. The review panel included a UCU representative and represents a major step forward in UCU’s work to promote good governance in the sector. The recommendations of the report align closely with the recommendations of HEC’s governance working party, made in February 2010. In particular the Report recommends:

  • Protecting academic freedom and institutional autonomy
  • The appointment of two nominees of both students and staff unions to the governing body and committees
  • Greater transparency in appointments and remuneration of senior management
  • Election for chairs of governing bodies
  • A broadening of the experience of governing body members and greater transparency in appointment procedures
  • Reserving the designation ‘university’ to independent public bodies accredited in Scotland

HEC agreed on the need to publicise the recommendations of the report in the hope that the good practice advocated could be developed as a model across the UK.

Further information:

The Prondzynski Report itself: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2012/02/3646/0

The report is short and relatively readable certainly in comparison with most such documents. If you are in broad agreement with its analysis and proposals, and eager to see the managerialist trajectory in university governance reversed or at least checked, NOW is the time to begin putting pressure on MSPs, and campaigning in the media, for the government to enact the report. It is clear that Cabinet Secretary Russell thinks that the main pressure he is under is coming from Universities Scotland and those on governing bodies who believe in the business model and think that collegial decision-making is an obstacle to its full implementation. The message needs to be conveyed to Mike Russell that the greatest threat to the future of Scotland's prestigious HE system come from the demoralisation of teaching, research and support staff who feel overworked and stressed, underpaid relative to their managers, and disenfranchised in the decision-making process; and that the von Prondzynski proposals, modest though they are, would - if enacted as a whole - represent a significant step in the right direction.

Ian Macwhirter on the Prondzynski Report: http://iainmacwhirter2.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/prondzynski-report-principals-fight.html