Universities Scotland’s Convener writes to Education Secretary on the Higher Education Governance Bill

Universities Scotland’s Convener, Professor Sir Pete Downes, has today [Monday 8 February] written a letter to the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Angela Constance to set out the sector’s view on issues relating to the Scottish Government’s proposed Stage 2 amendments to its Higher Education Governance (Scotland) Bill.

Sir Pete explains that Universities Scotland remains concerned that this Bill “will seriously compromise universities’ ability to make a full contribution to our nation’s success”. Universities Scotland asks the Cabinet Secretary to reflect further on the concerns raised by the sector and to develop, in a consultative way, alternative proposals for amending the Bill.

Sir Pete’s letter welcomes the Scottish Government’s proposal to remove sections 8 and 13 from the Bill as well as the removal of a member limit for academic boards.

However, Sir Pete notes the sector’s concern about major new policies, which have been introduced without any consultation and which are contrary to the Scottish Government’s stated intentions at Stage 1.

In summary, the sector has serious concerns in the following areas:

  • Rectors/senior lay governors
  • Relevant criteria for selection of senior lay member
  • Advertisement and application
  • Interview of certain candidates
  • When election to be convened
  • Election franchise and result
  • Remuneration and conditions
  • Transitional arrangements

The letter has also been copied to the Convener and members of the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Culture Committee to support their scrutiny of the Bill.