In praise of the higher education bill

March 17, 2016

The passing of the Higher Education Governance Bill in Scotland’s Parliament by an overwhelming vote should surely hearten all those who seek to open up university governance to more democratic approaches in the UK. Measures to ensure elected chairs of court (senior lay governors) by staff and students, while safeguarding and somewhat enhancing the role of traditional rectors, can only send the message that moves towards transparency in governance are still possible in the sector.

The additional measures that will lead to statutory representation of trade unions on courts (in addition to existing staff and student places) is a further welcome acknowledgement by the Scottish legislature of the positive role of trade unions in society. In addition, the decision that the majority of those on university senates should now be elected helps to move the direction of academic decision-making back towards academics rather than managers, which is too often the case.

The fact that, in the run-up to key Scottish elections, the Scottish National Party government sustained the support of Labour and the Greens in passing (and improving) this legislation is surely a sign of grown-up politics, and all parties should be thanked for this. It is to be hoped that university management and university courts in Scotland will cooperate fully in implementing the letter and the spirit of this legislation.

Douglas Chalmers
President
University and College Union Scotland


Send to

Letters should be sent to: THE.Letters@tesglobal.com
Letters for publication in Times Higher Education should arrive by 9am Monday.
View terms and conditions.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Retired academics calculating moves while playing bowls

Lincoln Allison, Eric Thomas and Richard Larschan reflect on the ‘next phase’ of the scholarly life