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Taking action in higher education

UCU Scotland Congress 2009

The Scottish annual congress is an autonomous policy body that debates matters specifically related to Scotland.

Friday 20 March 2009
10am - 1pm
St Andrews

Presidential speeches

Terry Brotherstone opened the congress by using the 25th anniversary of the Miners' strike to highlight the rapid changes in society. For universities this has resulted in a mass education system and a greater emphasis on economic benefits. He stated:

'We must meet qualitatively new challenges to universities, posed by the unpredictable impact of recession and the state's increasingly desperate efforts to keep tabs on an internationally mobile student (and staff) population. The only certainty, it seems to me, is that the conflict between social, educational and intellectual values on the one hand, and market-dominated institutional planning on the other will become increasingly irreconcilable.'

On funding and work with the STUC he said:

Anyway, the only important funding gap is not the difference between Scotland and England. It is also between the UK and comparable countries. It is between what universities are expected to do - in teaching and research - and the funds available for the salaries of those who do it.' And

'We have long worked with, and within, the Scottish TUC but I think that your agreement that I should take part in a General Council delegation to Israel and Palestine represented a new level of involvement.'

The president gave congress the shock news that David Bleiman will retire from 1st September. In paying personal tribute to David, he said that there would be further occasions specifically to celebrate his contribution.

The speech in full can be downloaded below.

In her speech at the close of congress, UCU President Sasha Callaghan drew particular attention to the importance of addressing issues of equal access before next year's event.

Resolutions of congress

A record twenty motions were passed at this year's congress. A motion on the statutes that protect staff in the pre-1992 universities was given greater impetus by news of the breakdown of the Scotland-wide consortium to discuss the reforms. Motions on the future of higher education called for the STUC and UCU to promote public understanding of the nature and purpose of university research and education to build the most effective possible campaign for increased public resource for higher education.

Of two emergency motions one sought to expose and halt the dangers of creeping privatisation in Scottish Higher Education such as INTO at Glasgow Caledonian University and another condemned the recent violence in Northern Ireland.

Other resolutions include:

  • immigration
  • redundancies
  • hourly paid staff
  • individual employment disputes and mediation
  • contractual financial targets
  • climate change and international issues.

The full list of resolutions can be downloaded below.

Reports and thanks

Both the honorary secretary and treasurer presented written reports which are available to download. In the vote of thanks Terry Brotherstone was thanked for his work as president and the outgoing officers, Susan Ashworth and Alastair Hunter were thanked for their years of work for UCU Scotland. Ann Cowan was congratulated on organising her first conference and Claire Johnston for organising the well attended and valuable training session on hourly paid staff in the afternoon after congress.

In the news

The congress was reported on local radio stations and reporters from the Times Higher Education, the Herald and Scotsman attended and published the articles below:

Last updated: 6 January 2016