New governance code ignores SRC suggestions

Sam Wigglesworth

Glasgow University is to implement the main points of the controversial new Scottish Code of Good Higher Education Governance.

The aim of the Code is to “promote the enduring success, integrity and probity” of the institutions that choose to apply it and to increase accountability and transparency in the university sector.

Education trade unions had called on the government to reject the code, feeling that the final version has changed little from the draft version published earlier in the year which was deemed “too senior management friendly” by union chiefs, and lacking accountability.

Jess McGrellis, President of Glasgow University Students’ Representative Council (SRC), admitted some recommendations made by the SRC last year seemed to have been ignored. She said: “From the SRC’s perspective there has been a fair amount of consultation with students on the Scottish Code of Governance… Certainly, I feel that when my predecessor and I met with the Good Governance Steering Group Advisor in December 2012, it appeared that our input was received positively and would be considered on an equal footing with the consultation with the university’s own Senior Management team.

“However, when the draft Code of Governance was published it was apparent that some points raised, by us, during the discussions, particularly some of the more controversial matters, were not even mentioned in the draft.

The Code attempts to engage staff and students in the appointment of the chair and lay members of the governing body. There will also be the introduction of new measures to allow for greater staff and student involvement in the formal appraisal of the Principal, as the code states: “views should be sought from the staff and student members of the governing body as well as independent measures.”

McGrellis went on to mention that the communication the SRC has with the University of Glasgow is a rare and enviable one: “Our working relationship with the University means that we are listened to and can enjoy more significant input on how Court operates and the more general governing practices within our own institution… At GUSRC we are fortunate to be in this perhaps unique position.”

A spokesman for the University of Glasgow welcomed the publication of the Code. He said: “We will be implementing the key recommendations of the Code, and are supportive of the means in which the code will strengthen transparency and inclusion. The University of Glasgow is committed to continuous improvement in the way in which the institution is governed.”