Devolved Scotland needs successor for SHEFC

March 1, 1996

A planning and funding buffer body should be responsible for higher education under a Scottish parliament, according to a paper from the Association of University Teachers Scotland.

Delegates to tomorrow's council meeting at Dundee University will be asked to approve the paper, which says that a body whose sole remit is the planning and funding of higher education is needed to capitalise on the success of the sector.

The new group should be the successor to the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council but would also have responsibility for planning and advising the Scottish parliament of the sector's needs.

"The proposed body should operate at arm's length from the universities as SHEFC has done, and report directly to a Scottish parliamentary committee to ensure that the traditional autonomy of the sector is preserved," the AUTS says.

At present SHEFC's advice is confidential to the secretary of state for Scotland, but the paper says all the advice and decisions of the new body should be made public. It should represent not only academic and professional interests, but also community interests including trade unions and business.

The AUTS paper also calls for a Scottish research council to coordinate initiatives which are currently the responsibility of various Scottish Office departments.

But it wants guaranteed continued access to United Kingdom research council funds, and that institutions should continue to be part of UK-wide organisations and networks.

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