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UCU slams "jobs for the boys" appointment of new Robert Gordon University principal

9 August 2018

UCU Scotland has attacked Robert Gordon University for shoehorning in a new principal without any sort of recruitment process

The university has announced that Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski will step down at the end of the month and be succeeded by current deputy principal, Professor John Harper.

The Times revealed this week that three Scottish universities that have recently appointed principals all handed the jobs to white, middle-aged men and two of the institutions only shortlisted one woman.

Overall, 12 men made final shortlists for the posts at universities in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee and just five women. Across Scotland, only four of 15 top positions at mainstream universities are held by women.

UCU Scotland official Mary Senior said: 'It is disappointing to learn of Professor von Prondzynski's resignation. While we've not agreed on everything, particularly at a local level, he has made a significant contribution to higher education in Scotland. His review of higher education governance led to new legislation that should improve transparency in our universities.

'It is ironic that while he made such a huge contribution to improving university governance, his former university is shoehorning in his replacement without any recruitment process. It is particularly galling to see this jobs for the boys approach at a time when there is considerable debate about the need for more diversity in senior positions in universities and society at large.'

Recent appointments of principals at Scottish universities - details of the shortlists were obtained through Freedom of Information requests by the Times:


Professor Peter Mathieson assumed the office of principal of the University of Edinburgh in February. The university shortlisted three women and five men.


Professor George Boyne started his tenure as principal of the University of Aberdeen last week. The university shortlisted four men and one woman.


Last month the University of Dundee announced it had appointed Professor Andrew Atherton as its new principal. The university shortlisted four men and one woman.

Last updated: 9 August 2018