The EIS is disappointed with the final Scottish Code of Good HE Governance issued today (Thursday) by a Steering Group of University Chairs, and calls on the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and Scottish Government to reject using the Code as a condition for public funding for Universities.
The EIS calls on the Scottish Funding Council and the Scottish Government to consult on this Code, with a view of amending it to make it fit for purpose.
The EIS believes the published Code is vague, filled with qualifications and caveats, with a meaningless ‘comply or explain’ aspect - in short, it is too senior manager friendly.
The Code is unlikely to improve governance or increase accountability, since it places no additional requirements on Universities.
Indeed, the Code states: "The Code is not a prescriptive set of rules” and "…it is possible that certain of the (Code’s) Main Principles can be met by means different to those envisaged in the Guidelines.”
The Code’s weak ‘comply or explain’ provisions undermine the Code’s ability to be used a Scottish Funding Council condition of public funding.
The Code states: Institutions should report in the corporate governance statement of their annual audited financial statements (Annual Reports) that they have had regard to the Code, and that where an Institution’s practices are not consistent with particular provisions of the Code an explanation should be published in that statement.
According to the Code, if a University Court makes a decision in August 2013 which contravenes the Code – it will only be required to report it and explain the contravention in its following Annual Report, which will be published partway through the following academic year – i.e. by 31 December 2014. By this time however, the SFC will have already provided funding for the University.
In other words, compliance to the Code cannot be shown to the Scottish Funding Council within a timescale that affects the following year’s SFC funding. It is therefore difficult to understand how the Code can be used as a condition of funding.
The EIS believes that Universities should inform the SFC instantly when they have decided to contravene the Code.
For further information, contact David Belsey on 0131 225 6244 or firstname.lastname@example.org