Final Scottish governance code is criticised

Academic and student unions north of the border have again condemned a new code of governance for Scottish universities as “vague” and “meaningless”.

July 19, 2013

The code, which was heavily criticised when it was released as a draft in April, was put forward yesterday in its final form.

Following feedback over the draft code, the chairs of Scottish university governing bodies say the final document will provide:

- greater clarity on the involvement of staff and student governing body members in the appointment and appraisal of principals

- clear guidance on the role of executive staff in supporting the work of governing bodies

But Gordon Maloney, president of the National Union of Students in Scotland, said the code was “incredibly disappointing”.

“The last three months were meant to be an opportunity for the chairs to think again, come back with improved proposals, and develop stronger proposals that would deliver true accountability. This final code has failed to do so,” he said.

“Under this code, principals’ pay can still be set without directly including staff or students,” he added.

“We expected action to ensure better representation [on governing boards] of women, younger people, and people from all backgrounds. While this code will see institutions setting goals in these regards, universities will set these goals for themselves, clearly risking any progress in this area,” he added.

The University and College Union called on the Scottish government to reject the code, and implement the recommendations of a 2012 review by Ferdinand von Prondzynski, the principal of Robert Gordon University.

His review made a number of radical suggestions, including quotas for women on governing boards, more staff and student representation, and a ban on bonuses for vice-chancellors.

The Educational Institute of Scotland, a separate union north of the border, said in a statement: “The published code is vague, filled with qualifications and caveats…in short, it is too senior manager friendly.”

david.matthews@tsleducation.com

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