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: Sir Paul Grice, Principal of Queen Margaret University

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

Click here to view the Committee’s membership.

Current priorities:

  • Collaborating to ensure the best possible recovery from COVID-19 and the best possible learning experience for students.
  • Considering opportunities for greater flexibility in terms of accessing higher education and qualifications.
  • Contributing to the development of graduate skills and related policy, including on upskilling/reskilling, the development of short courses and microcredentials.
  • Contributing to the sector’s work to widen access to higher education, through admissions, articulation and bridging programmes.
  • Take account of UK quality and regulatory developments that may have implications for the Scottish sector.
  • Responding to and informing Scottish Government policy impacting on learning and teaching

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

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 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.
  • Supporting the continuation of the UK’s Research and Innovation effort in fighting COVID-19 and assisting economic recovery.

International Committee

Convener: Professor Andrea Nolan, Principal of Edinburgh Napier University

Vice Convener: Professor Brad Mackay, Senior Vice 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 Nigel Seaton, Principal of Abertay University

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

Click here to view the Group’s membership.

Current Priorities:

  • Sustainable funding for the sector so that it can support both individual’s ambitions to learn and the recovery and transformation of the economy.
  • Responding to the outcomes of the SFC’s Review of Coherent Provision and Sustainability as it affects funding and accountability.

Universities Scotland Efficiency and Effectiveness Committee

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

Vice Convener: Professor Richard Wells, Vice-Principal (International Partnerships) of the University of Aberdeen

Click here to view the Committee’s membership.

Current Priorities:

Pursue a new three-year work plan to stimulate, promote and highlight the sector’s pursuit of efficiency including:

  • Sustaining beneficial changes in operations catalysed by the sector’s response to the pandemic.
  • Further enhancement of shared services where these add value.
  • How changes to operations can support a just transition to net-zero including recycling and upcycling creating a circular economy in IT.

Admissions Policy Group

Convener: Professor Sally Mapstone, Principal of the University of St Andrews

Vice Convener: Jonathan Jones, Director of Admissions, Access & UK/EU Recruitment at the University of Glasgow

Click here to view the Group’s membership.

Current Priorities:

  • Leading on the sector’s work to widen access to higher education, including work related to the Commission on Widening Access recommendations.
  • Enhancing transparency and consistency in admissions across the sector, consistent with the principles outlined in A guarantee of fairness.
  • 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: Dr Jim McGeorge, University Secretary, University of Dundee

Click here to view the Group’s membership.

Current Priorities:

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