Elected chairs of governing bodies – a prize worth winning

An earlier article on UCU Scotland’s blog included a report from UCU’s recent Re-imagining the University conference where Mike Russell, the then Cabinet Secretary for Education, gave a firm commitment to legislate to bring in elected chairs of university governing bodies.

Since then we’ve taken the first steps towards making this welcome recommendation from the 2012 Review of Higher Education Governance a reality.  At the start of November the Scottish Government launched a consultation on a proposed higher education governance bill.

The consultation invites comments and views on proposals to legislate on the role of the Privy Council; define academic freedom; the selection of chairs of governing bodies including that they be elected; more representative governing bodies, and that academic boards be fully representative and effective.  UCU are in the process of finalising our response to the consultation but we’re pretty positive about those aspects of future legislation albeit that in some aspects we’d want to go further.  But there are also aspects including the idea that the position of ‘Principal’ in the university be renamed ‘Chief Executive Officer’ that we do not support.

The arrival of Angela Constance as the new Education Secretary doesn’t appear to have seen the Scottish Government’s appetite for reforming the governance of our universities lessen, and Nicola Sturgeon committed to legislate when she announced her programme for government in the Parliament shortly after her election as First Minister.

The consultation ends on 30 January.  We’ll be looking for UCU branches, and others, to help us make the case for reforming and democratising university governing bodies by submitting their own responses and campaigning on campuses up and down Scotland in the New Year to support what we’re asking for.  We need to let politicians know there is a real appetite and need for reforming higher education governance.

More details will be sent to branches shortly. In the meantime if you want to find out more, volunteer to submit an individual response or do some campaigning on this issue then contact the UCU Scotland office in the New Year.

Joint Recognition Agreement Signed at GSA


UCU Scotland  is now a recognised trade union at Glasgow School of Art. GSA UCUS Branch Secretary Nicky Bird Explains:

“The Joint Recognition Agreement (JRA) was signed on Tuesday 9 December. This major achievement secures UCU’s formal recognition at GSA.  The JRA involved GSA management, EIS, UNISON and UNITE alongside UCU. Big thanks to Mary Senior for her support throughout.”

Many thanks to Nicky and the GSA branch for their work in securing this agreement.


You can follow Nicky on twitter @Belindafindus