Scottish universities to get governance overhaul

Written by Tom Freeman on 17 June 2015 in News

Scottish Government publishes new bill which will see staff and students on governing boards

Staff, students and trade union members will be represented on the governing bodies of Scottish universities, if new proposals unveiled today go ahead.

The Scottish Government hopes the changes will also lead to elected chairs for the governing bodies of all Scottish higher education institutions.

The Scottish Government has introduced the Higher Education Governance (Scotland) Bill, which will take forward recommendations from a 2012 review chaired by Robert Gordon University Principal, Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski.


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The bill also aims to limit the membership of academic boards to no more than 120 people and strengthen the current statutory definition of academic freedom by explicitly protecting the freedom to develop and advance new ideas and innovative proposals.

Prondzynski said: “It is vitally important that Scotland’s universities reinforce their undoubted success in learning and scholarship by demonstrating openness, transparency and inclusiveness. The Bill will significantly support our higher education system in demonstrating both democratic accountability and intellectual integrity, as part of a society that values learning and discovery.”

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Angela Constance said the proposals would “create a more modern and accountable framework of governance for our higher education institutions to work within.”

She said the Government wanted the public to have confidence in universities. “I look forward to hearing further constructive views raised in evidence and as we debate the detail of the bill to make our universities even stronger,” she said.

Mary Senior, UCU Scotland Official, said the union had been campaigning on the issue for years.

“UCU members want universities that are more democratic, representative, and transparent, and we’ll be working to ensure that the chairs of university governing bodies are elected by the people with the biggest interest in the success of our universities – the staff and students who learn, teach and carry out research there,” she said.

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