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RSE Responds to Higher Education Governance Bill

Posted 08/09/2015

The RSE has responded to the Education and Culture Committee’s call for evidence on the Higher Education Governance (Scotland) Bill. It has used the opportunity to reiterate its concerns, previously raised with the Scottish Government, that the proposals set out in the Bill undermine the crucial tenets of independence and autonomy that are the foundations of a vibrant, successful HE sector.

Scotland’s Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) receive public funding and are held accountable for this support through the Scottish Funding Council and other bodies. However, treating Scottish HEIs as public sector bodies, as this Bill effectively does, could lead to unintended consequences and affect their ability to compete. Imposing a ‘one size fits all’ approach to governance arrangements fails to recognise the rich diversity of Scotland’s HEIs and limits their flexibility to respond to an ever-changing, highly-competitive global environment.

The RSE is particularly concerned about the process through which chairs of HEIs’ governing bodies will be elected. It considers the deferral of regulations detailing the process as a major omission of the Bill, in light of the central focus and controversial nature of the proposals set out in the Scottish Government’s earlier consultation document.

The proposed election of chairs by an electorate broader than that of the governing body members, as well as the prescribed representation of trade unions on governing bodies, are two key proposals that are potentially counter to the current understanding of good governance.

The RSE’s full response can be found here.

The accompanying press release can be found here

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