The hunt for individuals to lead negotiations with universities and colleges across Scotland over newly-introduced outcome agreements has begun.
The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) has started its search for a number of Outcome Agreement (OA) Managers to develop and oversee performance of individual institutions in meeting tailored commitments such as widening access.
Up to six individuals are being sought to lead on negotiations for 2013-14, a spokesperson confirmed to Holyrood, though an internal restructure that could see some roles filled by secondment has yet to be completed.
The posts – which come with a salary of up to £55,140 – are offered on a fixed-term basis only until December next year to allow the Council flexibility to adapt amid the prospect of legislation being brought forward.
The move comes after Universities Scotland, which represents principals at 19 institutions north of the Border, labelled this year’s process of negotiations an “intensive and bureaucratic exercise” as agreements awaited being signed off.
Last December, the SFC announced plans to implement individual agreements from the new academic year onwards that demand universities and colleges across the country, among other things, widen access and protect course provision in return for financial investment.
The funding body confirmed to Holyrood last month financial sanctions are off the table as part of this year’s round of discussions amid calls from Universities Scotland to hold off on legislation and potentially punitive financial penalties until progress on new agreements can be gauged.
The vacancies, which are published on the Council’s website today, seek out applicants to Outcome Agreement (OA) Manager posts at two separate grades, the more senior appointment tasked with managing performance delivery and development for up to four higher education institutions.
Under skills and experience for the Grade M1 role, which promises a salary of between £41,568 to £55,140, it reads: “The post holder will have high-level people skills, including influencing, leadership and relationship management together with the ability to manage conflicting priorities and diverse workloads within a highly politicised environment.
“The post holder will have high-level oral and written communication skills, including strong presentation skills, and the ability to authoritatively represent the Council.”
Successful applicants will have to “within specified parameters, negotiate outcome agreements with individual HEIs and colleges/regions which specify targets in return for financial investment from SFC, monitor and evaluate performance against these agreements and identify and take any action required,” the job profile states.
Identification and oversight of national and regional priority changes the SFC wishes to see enacted as well as serving as the Council’s lead on strengths and weaknesses of an institution also feature among the key objectives listed.
Post holders of the lower Grade E3 managerial position, which attracts a salary of between £30,312 and £40,608, are to be charged with responsibility for an allocated college region after Cabinet Secretary for Education, Mike Russell, announced earlier this year Scotland’s FE sector is to be grouped into 13 separate clusters.
An SFC spokesperson said: “We are currently looking for up to 6 people to add to the outcome agreement team, however, in parallel we are still concluding an internal restructure so there is not, at the moment, a final number of posts we are seeking to fill externally.
“Each post holder will look after a portfolio that has either a mix of universities, universities and college regions, or single college regions.
“The posts are fixed term appointments, which may be filled by secondment, to give us continuity over the negotiation of outcome agreements for 2013-14 and 2014-15, and also to provide us with the flexibility to adapt our structure to the requirements of post-16 reform over the next 3 years.”