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 2021-2024 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: Professor Steve Olivier, Principal of Robert Gordon University.

Vice Convener: Professor Liz Bacon, Principal of Abertay University.

Click here to view the Committee’s membership.

Current priorities:

  • Collaborating to ensure the best possible recovery from the pandemic and the best possible learning experience for students.
  • Influencing and shaping the development of SFC’s proposed new quality assurance and enhancement tertiary framework.
  • Contributing to the development of graduate skills, green skills and related policy, including on upskilling/reskilling, the development of short courses and micro-credentials and employer engagement.
  • Responding to and informing Scottish Government’s education reform policy as they affect learning and teaching such as the Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessment, Independent Review of the Skills Delivery Landscape and Purpose of Principles of Higher Education.
  • Take account of UK and European quality and regulatory developments that may have implications for the Scottish sector.

Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee

Convener: Professor Stephen Decent, Principal, Glasgow Caledonian University

Vice Convener: Professor Nicholas Forsyth, Vice-Principal (Research), University of Aberdeen

Click here to view the Committee’s membership.

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 SFC R&I Funding and the Future of the Research Excellence Framework.
  • Maximising the opportunities of the UK 2.4% (of GDP being invested in R&D by 2027 ) Target in Scotland.
Professor Stephen Decent, Principal of Glasgow Caledonian University.

International Committee

Convener: Professor Andrea Nolan, Principal of Edinburgh Napier University.

Vice Convener: Professor Brad Mackay, Deputy Principal of the University of St Andrews.

Click here to view the Committee’s membership.

Current Priorities:

  • Progressing the work of Connected Scotland which supports and promotes Scottish higher education internationally through annual events.
  • Influencing and shaping the development of the new immigration system introduced in 2021 together with the recently launched two-year graduate post-study work visa.
  • Working with members, UUK and the Scottish Government to set out the best possible options that maintain Scotland’s competitive offer, retain talent, and position the sector as the partner of choice.
  • Working with members and the Scottish Government to create the first International Education Strategy for Scotland and as part of it, to support the development of a mobility scheme and the expansion of scholarships for international students.
  • Undertaking activities and promotional campaigns to position and promote Scottish HE internationally through Scotland is Now – Study in Scotland.

Funding Policy Group

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

Vice Convener: Ms Susan Stewart, Director of the Open University in Scotland.

Click here to view the Group’s membership.

Current Priorities:

  • Long-term sustainable funding for the sector so that it can support both individual’s ambitions to learn and transformation of the economy.
  • Responding to the outcomes of the Purpose and Principals Statement and related policy frameworks published over the summer of 2023 as they affect funding, accountability and the broader sustainability of the higher education sector.
  • Influencing the Scottish Government’s “reform” agenda to support the success of higher education institutions and enables continuation of quality in the challenging public funding climate.

Admissions Policy Group

Convener: Professor Nazira Karodia, Vice Principal (Learning and
Teaching) at Edinburgh Napier University.

Vice Convener: Shona Paul, Head of Professional and Continuing Education at Glasgow School of Art

Click here to view the Group’s membership.

Current Priorities:

  • Leading on the sector’s work to widen access to higher education through university’s admissions policies.
  • Enhancing transparency and consistency in admissions across the sector, consistent with the principles outlined in A guarantee of fairness.
  • Responding to and informing Scottish Government’s education reform policy as they affect admissions such as the Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessment, Purpose of Principles of Higher Education
  • Contributing to UK-wide developments in admissions policy and 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: Ms Eileen Schofield, University Secretary, University of Stirling

Click here to view the Group’s membership.

Current Priorities:

  • The Group considers sector governance and regulatory issues, sector-led enhancement and responding to proposals for change from government.