Monday 11-05-2015 - 11:51
Henry McLeish has resigned from his position as chair of the Glasgow Colleges Regional Board, following weeks of increasing pressure to speak out and take action on the importance of college student representation after issues of poor governance seen at Glasgow Clyde College.
Henry McLeish, as chair of the regional board, failed to act and speak out on the actions of the chair of the Glasgow Clyde College Board, who wrongly undermined the student representatives of the Board, when he removed them from a meeting making a key decision about the college principal.
Following this, NUS Scotland worked closely with Glasgow Clyde College Students’ Association, supporting them to defend and protect student representation, looking to the regional Board, and Henry McLeish, to show decisive leadership at the regional level.
Support for Glasgow student representatives
At NUS Scotland Conference in March 2015, student delegates voted unanimously to support Glasgow student representatives in their no-confidence of the Glasgow Clyde College chair, George Chalmers, and their call for him to resign. This led to a demonstration outside Glasgow Clyde College the following week, with students and staff from colleges and universities across Scotland calling for action to be taken.
NUS Scotland and representatives from students’ associations across Scotland called on Henry McLeish and the Glasgow Colleges Regional Board to take action and condemn George Chalmers and the undermining of student representation in Scotland; something that failed happen, despite the significance of the situation.
Resignations from the Regional Board
Following Henry McLeish’s initial decision not to take action on the Clyde College situation, four members of the regional board decided to resign, citing issues with how the Regional Board was being run. Resignations from Professor Pamela Gillies, the principal of Glasgow Caledonian University, and Maureen McKenna, the education director of Glasgow City Council were followed 24 hours later by resignations from Barclay McCrindle, president of Glasgow Clyde College Students’ Association and then by Andrew Aitken, student president at Glasgow Kelvin College Students’ Association.
Continued pressure for action
Students across Scotland, led by Glasgow student representatives and supported by NUS Scotland, continued the pressure on Henry McLeish, disappointed by his lack of action, and continuing the call for him to show strong leadership, and speak up on the important issue of student representation.
On Friday 1 May 2015, Henry McLeish resigned, citing that it was a “good time to move on and focus on the other pressures”.
The Scottish Government has appointed SFC board member Ali Jarvis to as interim chairwoman until a permanent replacement is appointed.
NUS Scotland President Gordon Maloney said “With this change, we can now start focusing on getting the trust of students back and building the Glasgow region back up to where it should be – a positive example of a strong college region, delivering amazing outcomes for its students and its community.
“Ali Jarvis is hugely respected in the education sector and we warmly welcome her appointment as interim chair. We look forward to working with her to build the Glasgow region back up, with students at its heart.
Jarvis added: “The needs of learners are my top priority and having followed the colleges’ journeys to date through my role on SFC, I know they share that priority and do a great job on delivering it. Though it’s a challenging agenda we mustn’t lose sight of the rewards.”
NUS Scotland will continue supporting the students of Glasgow Clyde, and any other college that sees similar attacks on their hard won rights for increased representation, to see a change of leadership at the local Board level.