The STUC slammed the new Code of Governance
from university chairs as a missed opportunity
making very limited change, failing to
address issues on senior managers’
pay, and failing to ensure representation
on the governing bodies reflects the diversity
of Scotland’s population.
This failure is due to a lack of proper
consultation with staff, students and
trade unions. Congress also re-iterated
its opposition to undergraduate tuition
fees, and rejects the rest of the UK tuition
fees for students.
UNISON's Davena Rankin called for the
original Von Prondzynski review recommendations
on the reform of University Governance
are implemented in full.
"Until we have governors and senior
management teams of universities that
fully represent the diversity of their
workforce and student body we will continue
to see building projects prioritised over
decent pay and equitable terms and conditions
for all staff and for Black and female
staff. The glass ceiling will not only
continue to exist but will be reinforced
and double glazed."
Davena was proud that both tuition fees
and the learn now pay later graduate tax
have been scrapped in Scotland and we
have a system of higher education that
But she warned: "At a time when
staff in universities have seen their
salary fall by 15% some universities are
encouraging their staff to make monthly
donations to boost the already overflowing
university coffers. When universities
are challenged on why they see the need
to build up reserves they respond by saying
that they are saving for a rainy day.
"Congress, I would argue that for
my members forced to use food banks to
survive that it is not only raining but
we are in the middle of a monsoon session
that has been going on for years."
The reason university principals and
governors do not recognise this is because
they are unrepresentative of the workers
they seek to lead. The lack of diversity
within university governors is shocking
and self perpetuating as those who create
the person specification for new governor
vacancies are the current governors.
Professor Von Prondzynski recognised
the need for diversity when he produced
his recent review in university governance.
"While the report was far from perfect
the fact that the current Chairs of court
were vocal in their opposition and went
as far as producing an alternative code
of governance is a ringing endorsement
of the review", said Davena.
"The review suggested that courts
seek to have at least 40% of female governors
- a low standard in my opinion given that
the majority of students and staff in
universities are female. He also called
on reserved seats for trade union representatives
in addition to the elected staff governors
- both recommendations caused a sharp
intake of breath by the Chairs of Court
so while it was not unexpected it was
disappointing to see both recommendations
dropped from the new code of governance."
Davena paid tribute to the late Sheena
Grant, a UNISON activist based at Aberdeen
University. She was a cleaner and for
the latter part of her life she was a
staff governor on her university's court.
"Sheena was able to reflect the
reality of life on campus for governors
who are too often isolated from the workers.
Unfortunately, not every university has
a Sheena as a governor on their board
which is why we need to increase the diversity
of governors as well as ensuring the trade
unions have guaranteed seats at the board",