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UCU Scotland policy

8 April 2003

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

The main policy-making 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 succeed 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.

Student finance and access

The present Scottish system for student finance including the absence of tuition fees is preferable to that elsewhere in the UK. 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 needs to be done to widen access to higher education for all who can benefit.


UCU Scotland welcomed the passing of a bill by the Scottish government which introduced new measures to make the governance of higher education institutions more transparent, and enable the election of chairs.

The higher education governance (Scotland) bill took forward a number of recommendations from the 2012 review of governance in Scottish universities and other higher education institutions, chaired by Robert Gordon University principal, Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski.

The bill will:

  • require higher education institutions ('HEIs') to appoint the chair of their governing body in accordance with an agreed, consistent process. Through this, the Scottish government aims to introduce elected chairs for the governing bodies of all Scottish higher education institutions
  • ensure that staff, students and trade unions are included in the membership of HEI governing bodies
  • limit the membership of academic boards to no more than 120 people
  • strengthen the current statutory definition of academic freedom by explicitly protecting the freedom to develop and advance new ideas and innovative proposals.

Read the full story here.

UCU Scotland comment ahead of debate on the higher education governance bill

UCU Scotland briefing on the Scotland HE governance bill, Jan 16 [183kb]

UCU Scotland comment on the education committee's stage one report on the governance bill

The consultation

Read UCU's evidence to the consultation here. [230kb]

Find all responses to the consultation here.

Scottish government's analysis of the responses.

Universities who want to maintain status quo on new transparency rules are out of touch

Scottish parliament elections

Scottish elections 2021: UCU manifesto

UCU Scotland's manifesto for the 2021 Scottish parliament elections sets out the changes we want to see the next Scottish government make to Scottish higher education. You can find the manifesto here [87kb].

The manifesto draws on a longer paper produced by the UCU Scotland's education committee which explores many of the areas in the manifesto in greater depth: The future of Scottish higher education - an alternative vision for universities [314kb].

You may also be interesting in watching back as SNP education spokesperson at Westminster Carol Monaghan MP, Scottish Labour's newly appointed education spokesperson Michael Marra, the Scottish Lib Dem's education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart MSP, the Scottish Green's education spokesperson Ross Greer MSP, and the Scottish Conservative's education spokesperson Jamie Greene MSP, speak and answer questions at our online hustings.

See also:

Gillian Mackay MSP consultation on buffer zones

UCU Scotland submitted a response to Gillian Mackay MSP's consultation on a possible member's bill in the Scottish Parliament to introduce buffer zones around hospitals and clinics that provide abortion services.  You can see response here:

Last updated: 26 August 2022