Imitation: sincerest form of strategy?

George Binning

An Edinburgh university became the centre of controversy when it emerged that their strategic plan had been plagiarised from the University of Glasgow Students’ Representative Council’s own strategic plan.

The 34-page document dictates the policy of Queen Margaret University Student Union (QMUSU) for the next four years, outlining the Union’s structure and aims, along with its implementation, monitoring and reviewing methodology. However the entire document appears to have been copied from the SRC’s own strategy almost word for word.

The first paragraph from the introduction to the SRC’s strategic plan reads:

“We are delighted to present you with our first ever strategic plan. This document represents a lot of hard work, effort and dedication from all the students and staff involved in the University of Glasgow Students Representative Council (GUSRC) as well as reflecting input from a host of our external partners.”

The first paragraph of the QMUSU’s plan, which is signed by both Rio Floreza and Saul Bertoletti, Student President and General Manager respectively, reads:

“The Students’ Union is delighted to present you with our new strategic plan. This document has been compiled with a considerable amount of effort and dedication from all the students and staff involved in the Students’ Union, Queen Margaret University Edinburgh, as well as reflecting input from a host of our external partners.”

The QMUSU’s plan also falsifies research that was actually conducted by the SRC. A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the Union’s present situation claims to have been carried out in conjunction with “various stakeholders” in student life. Only four of the 21 points raised do not appear in the SRC’s SWOT analysis.

Upon discovering the similarity between the two documents, Gavin Lee, President of the SRC, confronted the QMUSU demanding a written apology and a retraction of the strategic plan, threatening court action if the QMUSU failed to comply.

Lee expressed outrage at the forgery saying: “Everyone at the SRC was extremely distressed, angry and concerned that our strategic plan had been copied so extensively.

“We take great pride and ownership in such a significant document that was the culmination of a huge amount of work from all staff and sabbaticals.”

Drawing up the strategic plan took the SRC roughly a year and a half and was partly informed by feedback from a variety of university stakeholders.

Having brought the dispute to light, Lee confirmed that the SRC’s demands had been fulfilled:

“We received a public, written apology, and all copies of the Queen Margaret University Student Union’s document have been recalled. We are satisfied with these actions.”

Andrew McClean, Vice President of QMUSU, confirmed that disciplinary action had been taken, successfully appeasing the SRC.

He said: “The matter has been resolved by our President Rio Floreza and the Glasgow SRC President Gavin Lee. Rio Floreza has taken appropriate internal action. Both Students’ Unions are satisfied with the action taken.”


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