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: We are currently running an election for this role.

Click here to view the Committee’s membership.

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

Click here to view the Group’s membership.

Current Priorities:

  • HE funding and the spending review.
  • HE sector contributions to Scotland’s recovery from COVID-19 pandemic
  • SFC Review of Coherent Provision and Sustainability
  • Implications of loss of EU funding

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:

  • Working on enhancing shared services in Scottish HE in the new context of COVID-19
  • Introduction of new HR workstream to the USEEC 3-year work programme
  • Developing a circular ICT shared service, exclusive to the Scottish tertiary sector
  • Contributing to the US narrative of the sector’s contribution to Scotland’s recovery from COVID-19 pandemic
  • Responding to the SFC provision review

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:

  • Advancing the sector’s progress on tackling racism on campus, including at the level of governing bodies.
  • Provide the core emergency response group for HEI operations during and after COVID-19.
  • Working with Scottish Government to ensure safe return to campus for students and staff, including a key role in developing guidance for safe campus operation.