Independent review calls for shake up of university governance

An independent review of Higher Education Governance in Scotland today called for fundamental change in the way universities are governed.

Amongst its recommendations:

  • Governing bodies need to better show that they observe principles of good governance, regularly reviewing their own performance.
  • Meetings of University Court should normally be held in public.
  • There should be representatives of academic unions and of support staff unions on University Court (in addition to directly elected staff members)
  • At least forty percent of the Court membership should be female, and membership should also reflect principles of equality and diversity more generally.
  • Senior managers other than the Principal should not be Court members, nor attend unless for specific agenda items where their attendance is deemed necessary.
  • Chairs of Court (which should now be an elected post) should work closely with Principals, but be independent of them.
  • University Principals’ performance should be appraised by external governing body members, staff and students. Their method of appointment should be reformed.
  • Remuneration committees should include staff and student members.

The panel looking into change also recommended that the role of trade unions in university governance should be enhanced.

The report (copy here) has already been welcomed by university unions. We expect that it should be welcomed by our University Court in the interest of good governance.

University unions would welcome a real discussion with representatives of the Court on this document as well as on the shocking revelations of the staff survey. This should of course be of a more serious nature than ‘staff listening’ events – which it appears even the Principal’s office is now recognising do not work.

We have also written to Principal Gillies’ representative asking that the Principal attend meetings of the Joint Consultative Committee (as was standard practice with previous Principals). We will report back on her response to your staff representatives.

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