snp minister in scottish government at holyrood john swinney
Credit: Fraser Bremner

John Swinney hired by UofG

By Odhran Gallagher

The former deputy first minister best known for bungling student’s predicted grades during the COVID-19 pandemic has been given a job at the University.

The MSP for the Scottish National Party John Swinney has been given a role in the University of Glasgow as an honorary professor at the Centre for Public Policy. According to the University website, the centre, which was established in the autumn of last year, aims to “build scale and visibility in the public policy process, drawing on the significant policy expertise across all our Schools and the rest of the University”.

The Centre for Public Policy’s staff also include the chief executive of the UK’s Climate Change Committee and the Chief Executive of Carnegie UK. 

John Swinney has been described as a “veteran MSP” and has served in Holyrood since 1999 when the Scottish Parliament was established. However, Swinney is well known for his time as Cabinet Secretary for Education during the COVID-19 pandemic, in which he presided over the 2020 results for school exams in Scotland. These saw pupils unfairly downgraded based on an algorithm. The controversy resulted in a public apology from Swinney: “In speaking directly to the young people affected by the downgrading of awards – the seventy-five thousand pupils whose teacher estimates were higher than their final award – I want to say this: I am sorry. ” 

In response to his appointment, Swinney said: “Now, more than ever, it is important that policy makers and parliamentarians work in partnership with our universities to help tackle the issues that are impacting our collective health, wellbeing and standard of living.

“I applaud the University of Glasgow for its commitment to supporting public policy and I very much look forward to working with the Centre and wider university community to develop and enhance the public policy process for the benefit of all.”

Principal of the University, Anton Muscatelli added: “With this new centre and its honorary professors we will be in a stronger position to be able to bring a range of perspectives to national discussions on the key challenges facing society today. Both John…will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to their roles and I very much look forward to hearing their contribution and those of our other centre colleagues in the months and years ahead.”


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