Our Committees

We create & shape policy that supports our higher education institutions to be successful

We develop our funding and policy positions by working very closely with Principals and other senior staff in our higher education institutions.

Our policy committees cover three broad areas and meet regularly four or five times a year. They are led by two Principals in the role of chair and vice-chair and all of our 19 members are represented. The conveners are nominated by their peers for two years with the possibility of one re-election.

Our committees make recommendations on policy which pass to the Main Committee of all Principals to be discussed and decided upon.

We also have a number of smaller policy groups to focus on other issues. The membership of these groups can include Finance Directors, Head of Planning, Secretaries, Heads of External Affairs and others, depending on the group’s focus. They are always led by a Principal. Policy groups will always be representative of the sector’s diversity but not every university is necessarily a member.

Our three-year Strategic Plan for 2018-2021 outlines how we will help our members achieve their shared vision for higher education. The strategy is guided by four main themes: ambition; the common good; trust; and new ways of working. These priorities will shape what we deliver for members over the next three years.

Learning and Teaching Committee

Convener: We’re currently running an election for this position.

Vice Convener: Sir Paul Grice, Principal of Queen Margaret University

Current priorities:

  • Considering how to take account of UK quality and regulatory developments that may have implications for the Scottish sector.
  • Contributing to the ongoing implementation of ‘Working to Widen Access‘, the sector’s response to the Commission on Widening Access.
  • Contributing to the development of our work on skills to inform engagement with the Strategic Board, SFC, SDS and Ministers and take forward our skills narrative, ‘Tomorrow’s People‘.
  • Responding to and informing Scottish Government policy impacting on learning and teaching.
  • Discussing how the sector should take account of the ongoing development of the Graduate Apprenticeships programme.

Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee

Convener: Professor Wayne Powell, Principal of Scotland’s Rural College – SRUC

Vice Convener: Professor George Boyne, Principal of the University of Aberdeen

Current priorities:

  • Representing the Scottish sector interests in the development and activities of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
  • Developing Universities Scotland’s policy position on issues such as the Knowledge Exchange Framework, Universities Innovation Fund, Shared Prosperity Fund and the Research Excellence Framework.
  • Maximising the opportunities of the UK Industrial Strategy in Scotland.
  • Supporting the sector to perform well in Official Development Assistance-related funding.

International Committee

Convener: Professor Richard A Williams, Principal of Heriot-Watt University

Vice Convener: Susan Stewart, Director, The Open University in Scotland

Current Priorities:

  • Working to progress the work of Connected Scotland which support and promotes Scottish HE internationally.
  • Working to influence and shape the development of a future immigration system that is to be introduced in 2021 together with the newly announced 2-year graduate post-study work visa.
  • Working with members, UUK and Scottish Government to set out the best possible options that retain Scotland’s competitive offer to retain talent and position the sector as the partner of choice.
  • Undertaking activities to position Scottish higher education internationally and promote study in Scotland.
  • Developing a major collaborative partnership initiative with the Ontario province in Canada over the next 3-5 years, supported by a multi-agency approach.

Funding Policy Group

Convener: Professor Nigel Seaton, Principal of Abertay University

Vice Convener: Professor Peter Mathieson, Principal of the University of Edinburgh

Current Priorities:

  • HE funding and the spending review.
  • University Outcome Agreements.
  • Capital funding.
  • Engagement with the Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board
  • Implications of the UK’s exit from the EU.

Universities Scotland Efficiencies Taskforce

Convener:  Professor Craig Mahoney, Principal of the University of the West of Scotland

Vice Convener: We are currently running an election for this position.

Current Priorities:

  • Taking forward the sector’s efficiency strategy across the areas of procurement, shared services, ICT, business process management, estates and carbon reduction.
  • Implementing a three-year work programme which includes scoping new shared services, exploring new collaborative procurement opportunities, catalysing progress in the use of IT to enhance institutions’ operations and promoting improvements in supply chain technology.
  • Capturing and publicising measures taken by institutions to increase efficiency, to track progress and help share best practice.

Secretaries Group

The Secretaries Group is not one of Universities Scotland’s Committees however Universities Scotland and the Secretaries Group have worked closely together for a number of years. The Secretaries Group is a professional network of staff with responsibility for effective governance and for management of professional services.

Convener: Dr Jim McGeorge, University Secretary, University of Dundee

Current Priorities:

  • Implementation of the 2016 Higher Education Governance Act and the revised Scottish Code of Good HE Governance.
  • Advancing and evidencing the sector’s progress on gender equality, including at the level of governing bodies.
  • Co-coordinating the roll-out of Equally Safe in Higher Education and exchanging best practice on prevention of and responses to gender-based violence.
  • Liaison with the sector’s Prevent group.