Scotland in union

July 9, 2015

One of the distinguishing features of UK higher education is the way that devolution has allowed England to diverge from the norm as a result of the business model of higher education increasingly supported at Westminster.

In Scotland, the model has remained more focused on the European approach, with the absence of tuition fees for Scottish students, and every higher education institution expected to carry out both research and teaching – with a four-year honours degree (a Scottish speciality) still standard.

And the role of the University and College Union has been paramount in winning and maintaining this. Although, like others, our members’ views varied on independence, the UCU adopted a neutral standpoint in the referendum but argued for a set of shared values and demands irrespective of outcome – and these included improved democracy in the sector.

This now looks on the verge of being achieved with the publishing of the Scottish government’s bill to expand the definition of academic freedom, to legislate for trade union nominees (and students) on all governing bodies, and to ensure the election of chairs of court by the wider university committee – both staff and students (“Scottish governance bill emphasises ‘accountability’”, News, 25 June). In addition, governing academic bodies, such as senate, will be expected to have a majority of elected members from staff.

These measures are moving towards fruition because the UCU has, in addition to the activity outlined in your feature “Backstage hands” (25 June), always adopted a political position of seeking to help to set the educational agenda by supporting a range of democratic initiatives in addition to the key ones of improving wages and conditions.

Only by acting like a real community and representing the wider aspirations of its members – which must link into the political context such as the tremendous changes here in the Scottish body politic – can a union maintain its position and grow.

Douglas Chalmers
President
UCU Scotland

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 3 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

Most Viewed

Most Commented

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford will host a homeopathy conference next month

Charity says Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford is ‘naive’ to hire out its premises for event

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder

Woman pulling blind down over an eye
Liz Morrish reflects on why she chose to tackle the failings of the neoliberal academy from the outside
White cliffs of Dover

From Australia to Singapore, David Matthews and John Elmes weigh the pros and cons of likely destinations

Michael Parkin illustration (9 March 2017)

Cramming study into the shortest possible time will impoverish the student experience and drive an even greater wedge between research-enabled permanent staff and the growing underclass of flexible teaching staff, says Tom Cutterham