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UCU Scotland condemns lack of taskforce consultation

17 November 2008

UCU Scotland says the Scottish government's Higher Education Taskforce final report has made a mockery of the proposed consultation process as six months of consideration of the interim report has led to one minor change.

  An appendix has simply noted comments from respondents but this has not led to any significant change. Though the appendix from the Funding Council at least states that the detailed funding methodologies will be subject to full consultation, the whole premise of the report has been accepted without any meaningful consultation.
Responding to the publication today of the Taskforce's final report, UCU Scotland president, Terry Brotherstone, said: 'The government, despite Fiona Hyslop's personal assurances that the views of staff and students were vital to policy-making, has embarked on a course that excludes the real representatives of the sector and produced a report that reduces our concerns for academic freedom, cultural democracy and collegiality to mere appendices.
'While we welcome the commitment that all institutions will have capacity building funding for research we are concerned that much of the new Horizon Fund is dominated by the unimaginative current agenda of core skills, business interference and short-term skills gaps. The timescale of one Scottish parliament is the same as that of a single cohort of students gaining its first degrees, never mind realising their potential and much of the most beneficial university research takes years, even decades, to bear fruit.
'What goes on in universities cannot offer government quick fixes, but not to nurture our universities can contribute mightily to medium-term national and social decline. They require stable funding and strategic planning. Instead we are offered tinkering and re-branding of funding streams but no commitment to invest in the most important sector for Scotland's economic and social viability.'
The Higher Education Taskforce set up to consider the future of higher education consisted of Ministers, civil servants, Principals and a token member of the Scottish Funding Council. The bulk of the higher education sector, the staff and students, were not represented.

Last updated: 11 December 2015