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UCU Scotland policy

UCU Scotland is actively involved in helping to shape all aspects of Scottish higher education.

The main policy body for UCU Scotland is the annual Congress. The UCU Scotland Executive is charged with implementing this policy.

We are especially involved with trying to shape future policy on higher education and related funding decisions.

Funding of higher education

Scottish universities have a world-class reputation, but they can only maintain and build on that standard if they are adequately funded. Universities have to be funded to the same level as the UK's competing nations if they are to prevail at the heart of Scotland's knowledge economy. Funds for higher education are an investment in Scotland's future job and wealth creation.

Staff: the key resource

The key activities of universities rely on their highly qualified academic and related staff, and their roles in teaching, learning and research. Pay needs to be significantly increased to reward and retain these staff and attract postgraduates. In line with the European fixed-term directive, permanent employment should be the norm. The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) must ensure that job security is established and all forms of pay discrimination eliminated.

Knowledge for Scotland

Universities provide the professionals who work in every aspect of Scottish society, including public services, manufacturing, research and development, as well as the independent experts and research in all areas of Scottish life. Business and enterprise spending on research and development in the UK is significantly less than our economic competitors and the figure for Scotland is woeful.

We believe it will be impossible for our knowledge economy to grow without a significant improvement in research spending. Scottish Enterprise and the SFC should use their funding and expertise to facilitate links between industry, research establishments and the researchers themselves.

Student finance and access

The present Scottish system for student finance is preferable to that proposed for the rest of the UK, although the student loan repayment threshold should be increased beyond the proposed £15,000. UCU Scotland is opposed to the use of up-front fees, top-up fees or student quotas and the student finance system should be extended to include part-time students. More should be done to widen access to higher education for all who can benefit and the wider access premium should be at least doubled.

Accountability to stakeholders

We now have a democratic mechanism whereby universities are accountable, through the SFC, to a Scottish Parliament with significant and distinctive roles for the minister and the Enterprise and Culture Committee. The SFC should monitor institutions' plans and implementation, and must develop the expertise to do so.

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