NUS Scotland calls for radical change in university governance

Friday 30-01-2015 - 10:00

NUS Scotland has used its response to the consultation on a Higher Education Governance Bill to call on the Scottish Government to strengthen democracy, transparency and representation in our universities.

NUS Scotland argues that the proposed bill should go further in curbing principals’ pay levels, in strengthening fair representation on governing bodies and in improving democratic processes.

In recent years, there has been growing discontent over soaring principals pay (note 1), lack of fair representation on governing boards (note 2) and concerns over the way in which universities spend their funds (note 3). NUS Scotland was fully supportive of the recommendations on HE governance made by the Von Prondzynski review group in 2012 (note 4), which sought to address some of these concerns


However, in its submission to the consultation, NUS Scotland argues that the Government should go further than its current proposals in order to ensure that higher education institutions are governed in a more democratic and transparent way.

Gordon Maloney, President of NUS Scotland, said:

“At the moment, Scottish universities are too often run by the same types of people – usually male, pale and stale - without real accountability to students and staff. The extortionate pay packages awarded to principals and the embarrassingly low numbers of women on governing boards show what a lack of democracy can do to our institutions.

“We need to see universities become grounded in the community they serve, meaning that students and staff have a far greater say over how they’re run. Universities aren’t businesses and should care about more than just the financial bottom line. That’s why we want to see these changes, including elected Chairs, so that the people running our institutions are chosen democratically.

“The proposed legislation is a great opportunity to shake things up and make sure that the leaders of our education institutions are serving the interests of the whole community. We want to see the Scottish Government curb senior management pay, make sure that governing bodies are representative of the community they serve, and ensure that staff and students have a say in the way their university is run.”

Download NUS Scotland's consultation response to the HE Governance Bill here.





(5)The Scottish Government Consultation on a Higher Education Governance Bill will close on (Fri) 30 January. The consultation is available at



NUS Scotland

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HE governance,transparent,democratic,principal pay

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