"The EIS is disappointed with the draft version of the Scottish Code of Good HE Governance published today as it seems to offer nothing new to improve HE governance or accountability.
In fact the main aim of the draft code seems to reinforce the autonomy of universities and consolidate existing power structures.
The document is a set of general principles with a few examples of good practice, with vague statements of openness, transparency and accountability - their vagueness means that it will be difficult to show that Universities do not meet these "standards".
The EIS welcomes the principle that the Scottish Funding Council will require Universities to follow the (final) code as a condition of a grant of public funding, however the Universities also state that the code "can be met by means different to those envisaged in the guidelines” – which devalues the code.
Further, the Universities will issue the code on a "comply or explain basis” which upon reading the code means complying with the code "wherever possible” and simply issuing an explanation in the following year’s annual report where this is not possible.
The draft code seeks a wider role for the chairs of courts - which is unsurprising since the document has been written by an unaccountable group of chairs of university courts.
The draft code misses key elements of the von Prondzynski Review into University Governance, and whilst it may reinforce institutional autonomy it will not improve governance or accountability; for example the draft code allows the same number of university senior managers to attend court as there are independent members.
This would lead to a situation that senior university managers present and non-independent court members will significantly outnumber the independent members of court.”
- Larry Flanagan, EIS General Secretary
Further information: Brian Cooper on 0131 225 6244 or email@example.com