Aberdeen staff clear to run

May 22, 1998

Aberdeen University is encouraging its staff to play a part in the new Scottish parliament by reassuring them that their jobs will be held open for them if they become MSPs.

Duncan Rice, Aberdeen's principal, said the parliament would benefit greatly from the experience, skills and talent within the academic community.

"The establishment of the Scottish parliament marks a major turning point in our history. To succeed, it will require input from the brightest and most talented people in Scotland," he said. "We have let it be known that any member of our staff who may wish to seek election may do so with the assurance that if they should decide to return to academic life after serving as an MP, we will welcome them back into the post held prior to leaving the university."

Aberdeen has also told staff that their future academic prospects will not be prejudiced by the leave of absence, and it is offering up to three weeks' paid leave for election campaigning.

Henry McLeish, Scottish Office minister for devolution, said Aberdeen was to be congratulated for its "forward-looking approach" and urged other higher education institutions to follow suit.

David Bleiman, assistant general secretary of the Association of University Teachers, said: "The Scottish parliament will need to have a new relationship with higher education and to bring academic expertise to bear on all its decision-making. The Aberdeen University initiative is a welcome one, which we would expect other Scottish universities to follow.

"We are also looking at ways in which the committee structure of the parliament can provide for an informed input from higher education, before and during the legislative process as well as in the scrutiny of the parliament's executive," he said.

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