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Coronavirus COVID-19 Learner Journey Ministerial Task Force: terms of reference

Published: 15 Feb 2021

Terms of reference for the COVID-19 Learner Journey Ministerial Task Force.

15 Feb 2021
Coronavirus COVID-19 Learner Journey Ministerial Task Force: terms of reference

Terms of reference and remit: established January 2021


The Covid-19 Learner Journey Ministerial Task Force was established in January 2021 by the Scottish Government.

The Task Force was established following Further and Higher Education Covid-19 Ministerial Leadership Groups and bi-lateral meetings with Colleges Scotland and Universities Scotland, which highlighted significant challenges students face in completing Academic Year (AY) 2020-21, and the potential future impacts in AY 2021-22.

The Ministerial Task Force was established by the Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science to address the immediate challenges in this AY and then consider longer term consequences for students completing their qualifications on business and the economy, e.g. completing their qualifications and the future pipeline of suitably qualified staff which can also be linked, in the longer term, to the current SFC review on Coherence and Sustainability.

Purpose and remit

The Ministerial Task Force will be a short term action focused group for Government and members from its agencies and across the FE and HE sector to come together and:

  • address any immediate issues and consider where Government and its agencies can help
  • co-ordinate current activity to identify evidence and as a priority implement practical solutions to complete learner journeys in this AY
  • identify and facilitate more opportunities for wider agencies and organisations to work collectively in a more joined up way
  • work to agreed principles: reducing the impact of the pandemic on students; working together flexibly to deliver nationally required outcomes; and to deliver solutions that are in the best interests of students
  • begin to plan beyond the immediate term to complete learner journeys and
  • consider the medium and longer-term impact of pipeline skills shortages

The task force will initially consider the following areas:

  • focus on completion of qualifications/courses in this AY, including prioritisation issues
  • delivery of practical elements within courses/qualifications
  • consideration of any potential capacity issues in the current and next AY
  • financial sustainability for students and
  • development of a communications plan for students, parents and stakeholders

 The Ministerial Task Force does not replace existing governance and decision making mechanisms at Government, agency and individual organisation level.

Sub or shadow groups

In order to enable focused discussion on priority issues at meetings and make progress on the most significant issues, sub or shadow groups are proposed to work rapidly and provide practical and agile solutions. Both existing mechanisms and new solutions can be used for this purpose. 


The Ministerial Task Force will operate as long as required, initially meeting twice with the first meeting due to take place 4 February 2021 and the second meeting scheduled for 23 February.

Membership is determined by the Scottish Government, and will be reviewed regularly as will the remit of the Ministerial Task Force, to ensure that it continues to add value to the evolving situation. The Scottish Government will provide secretariat function. Current membership can be found at Annex A.

The Task Force will be chaired by the Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science.

Annex A


  • Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science (Chair) 
  • Shona Struthers (Chief Executive, Colleges Scotland)
  • Andy Witty (Director of Sector Policy, Colleges Scotland)
  • Carol Turnbull (Chair of College Principals’ Group)
  • Alastair Sim (Director, Universities Scotland)
  • David Lott (Deputy Director, Universities Scotland)
  • Paul Grice (Chair Learning and Teaching Committee, Universities Scotland)
  • Lauren McNamara (Director of Strategy and Innovation, Student Awards Agency Scotland)
  • Karen Watt (Chief Executive, Scottish Funding Council)
  • Fiona Robertson (Chief Executive, Scottish Qualifications Authority)
  • Neville Prentice (Senior Director of Service Development and Delivery, Skills Development Scotland)
  • Matt Crilly (President, National Union of Students Scotland)
  • Gillian Ritchie (HMI Inspector, Head of Scrutiny, Education Scotland)
  • Mary Senior (Scotland Official, University and College Union)
  • Lorcan Mullen (Head of Higher Education, Unison)
  • Chris Kennedy (Lead Unite Workplace and Health & Safety Rep, Unite)
  • Stuart Brown, (National Officer for FE, EIS)
  • Marion Allison (Director, CLD Standards Council)