The controversial former cabinet secretary for education and lifelong learning, Mike Russell MSP, has been appointed professor in Scottish culture and governance at the University of Glasgow, following his dismissal from the Scottish government in November last year.
The position is linked to both the College of Social Sciences and the College of Arts, with Russell expected to engage in a range of activities on campus, including teaching and research, as well as delivering a customary annual public lecture. It is understood that Mr Russell will be working at the University on a part-time basis.
The appointment comes after Russell was replaced as education secretary last year by first minister Nicola Sturgeon shortly after she took office. Russell was promoted to the position under Alex Salmond in 2009 and has been widely criticised for presiding over the perceived decline in Scottish schooling standards. Recent figures show a decline in literacy skills among both primary and secondary school children between the years 2012 and 2014.
Towards the end of his tenure as education secretary, Russell suggested that the decline was a consequence of Scotland voting to remain as part of the United Kingdom in last year’s independence referendum, a claim dismissed by opposition MSPs as a shirking of responsibility. Mr Russell was succeeded as education secretary by former SRC president Angela Constance MSP.
The principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Glasgow, Anton Muscatelli, said: “I am absolutely delighted that Michael is joining the University of Glasgow. As well as being a former cabinet secretary for education Michael has a long background and interest in Scottish culture and society. His knowledge and insights will be of tremendous benefit to our students and staff and we are all very much looking forward to working with him”.
Mr Russell said: “I am delighted to be joining the University of Glasgow and am grateful for this new and exciting opportunity. Glasgow is one of the top 100 universities in the world and under Anton’s leadership it is contributing greatly to the excellence of Scottish higher education and research. I am looking forward to working on issues that are close to my heart, to sharing some of my experience of government and Scottish culture with students and to collaborating with the many very fine scholars who are part of the community of the University”.
Russell will continue as the MSP for the Argyll and Bute constituency while working at the University. It is understood that he intends to stand for re-election in next year’s Scottish parliamentary election.