I’m afraid that James Naismith has it seriously wrong when he suggests that the higher education governance bill in front of Scotland’s Parliament is based on “solutions without problems, conclusions without evidence and changes without analysis” (“Unenlightened bill”, Letters, 15 October). When the Von Prondzynski report was published in 2012, there were no female chairs in any of Scotland’s higher education institutions. That is some “non-problem”.
At that time, few universities published the minutes of their court meetings. In some universities, there was an inward-looking culture – a gentleman’s club atmosphere verging towards a closed business directors’ meeting. This is not the way to run a modern, highly skilled university sector.
Following the publication of the Von Prondzynski report, the courts have made some moves to get their respective houses in order. Women are now increasingly appointed as court chairs, minutes are more regularly published. However, recent University and College Union requests to Scotland’s universities on details of remuneration policies for principals and other senior staff have been met with blank responses from some and heavily redacted reports from others. This is a journey towards democratisation and transparency in Scotland’s higher education sector that still has far to go, which is why campus unions are fully behind the government’s bill.
Incidentally, bills are not “rammed through” the Scottish Parliament. The detailed reports of our contemplations can be found in our submissions to the Scottish government’s consultations on the bill – available on the www.gov.scot website.
University and College Union Scotland