The Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland wishes to express a number of concerns about the Higher Education Governance (Scotland) Bill currently going before Parliament.  In particular, the Trust notes that the new Bill, if enacted, risks undermining the autonomy of the Scottish Universities and imposing regulations that could be significantly detrimental to their current operation and future prospects for maintaining their existing high international standards.

Under the Trust Deed, written by Andrew Carnegie in 1901 and under which we operate, we are charged with contributing to the welfare of the universities in Scotland and their students. It is in this context that we request that the following factors be taken into account during the passage of the Bill:

  1.       The evidence that exists internationally for a strong correlation between institutional autonomy, including freedom from political interference, and academic excellence.
  2.       The disadvantage of a “one size fits all” approach to the governance of institutions of widely differing size and nature and the need to respect diversity and heterogeneity.
  3.       The major financial risk to our universities were there to be, as a result of the Bill and other government actions, a consequent loss of charitable status or Office of National Statistics reclassification as public bodies.

We note that this latter issue is of paramount concern to the universities’ philanthropic supporters, such as our Trust, and any change of status could significantly restrict our ability to continue grant giving to the Scottish universities.

Professor Dame Anne Glover CBE FRSE FASM

Chair of the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland

Download the full response submitted to the Scottish Government.

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