Information

Tertiary education in North and South Lanarkshire: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.


Information requested

1. What action has the Scottish Government taken to ensure that the Boards of both South Lanarkshire College and New College Lanarkshire are complying with the terms of the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Act 2005 and the Post-16 Education (Scotland) Act 2013?

2. What action has the Scottish Government taken to ensure progress with the recommendations of the Scottish Funding Council’s Review of Tertiary Education and Research in Scotland, particularly its Review of Regional Strategic Bodies – Overview Report, published in October 2020, which stated:

  • “Our view is that the status quo is sub-optimal. The current governance arrangements are not well understood or accepted, and lead to constant friction. They distract both colleges from their main missions for students and economic recovery.”
  • “We recommend that the RSB should be dissolved and both colleges manage themselves as separate regional entities, forming a direct relationship with SFC.”

3. Given the current very public governance crisis which is playing out in the Lanarkshire region, the role of the Scottish Government in ensuring compliance with any principles of good governance is provided for in the Post-16 Education (Scotland) Act 2013. What action has the Scottish Government taken to ensure such compliance? please provide copies of all relevant communications over the period 2021 and 2022.

Response

1. What action has the Scottish Government taken to ensure that the Boards of both South Lanarkshire College and New College Lanarkshire are complying with the terms of the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Act 2005 and the Post-16 Education (Scotland) Act 2013?

The paramount interest of the Scottish Government and Scottish Ministers is safeguarding the quality oflearning,  the public investment made in Scotland’s colleges, and ensuring high standards of governance. The Scottish Government therefore expects the highest standards of propriety from organisations which receive public funding.

The SFC is accountable to Scottish Ministers for the use of public funds provided to it under the terms of the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Act 2005. When giving grants to the SFC, Scottish Ministers may attach such terms and conditions as they think appropriate, including a condition that when the SFC is making a payment to a college of further education, it is required to comply with any principles of governance which appear to the SFC to constitute good practice in relation to colleges of further education. All Further Education Institutions are also required to comply with the terms of their Financial Memorandum with the SFC. In accordance with the Financial Memorandum, all Further Education Institutions are also required to comply with the principles of good governance set out in the Code of Good Governance for Scotland’s Colleges.

2. What action has the Scottish Government taken to ensure progress with the recommendations of the Scottish Funding Council’s Review of Tertiary Education and Research in Scotland, particularly its Review of Regional Strategic Bodies – Overview Report, published in October 2020, which stated:

  • “Our view is that the status quo is sub-optimal. The current governance arrangements are not well understood or accepted, and lead to constant friction. They distract both colleges from their main missions for students and economic recovery.”
  • “We recommend that the RSB should be dissolved and both colleges manage themselves as separate regional entities, forming a direct relationship with SFC.”

As set out in the Scottish Government’s response to the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) Review of Coherent Provision and Sustainability (https://www.gov.scot/publications/scottish-governments-responsescottish- funding-councils-review-tertiary-education-research-scotland/documents/), we agree with the direction of travel and recommendations the SFC has set out for the Lanarkshire Regional Strategic Body, the Glasgow College Regional Board and the University of the Highlands and Islands.

The Scottish Government and the SFC have since identified six priority projects from the SFC Review’s recommendations to take forward, requiring input from and consultation with a range of other partners and stakeholders:

  • Producing a statement of Strategic Intent
  • Development of a national Impact Framework
  • Exploration of financial flexibility for colleges under current ONS classification
  • Multi-year funding assumptions for the sector
  • Tertiary Pathfinders and skills alignment
  • Research and Innovation

We will be publicly setting out further detail on scope, milestones and engagement in the coming weeks.

3. Given the current very public governance crisis which is playing out in the Lanarkshire region, the role of the Scottish Government in ensuring compliance with any principles of good governance is provided for in the Post-16 Education (Scotland) Act 2013. What action has the Scottish Government taken to ensure such compliance? Please provide copies of all relevant communications over the period 2021 and 2022.

The Scottish Government expects the highest standards of propriety from organisations which receive public funding. The SFC is accountable to Scottish Ministers for the use of public funds provided to it under the terms of the 2005 Act. When giving grants to the SFC, Scottish Ministers may attach such terms and conditions as they think appropriate to impose, including a condition that when the SFC is making a payment to a college of further education that college is required to comply with any principles of governance which appear to the SFC to constitute good practice in relation to colleges of further education. All Further Education Institutions are also required to comply with the terms of their Financial Memorandum with the SFC.

In accordance with this Financial Memorandum, all Further Education Institutions are also required to comply with the principles of good governance set out in the Code of Good Governance for Scotland’s Colleges. The original Code of Good Governance for Scotland’s Colleges was published in December 2014. In 2016, the Good Governance Steering Group undertook a review and the Code was updated, with the then Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning’s Good Governance Task Group recommendations taken into account during the review of the Code.

You have asked for “copies of all relevant communications over the period 2021 and 2022”. Under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested, however you may find the following links helpful:

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG

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