Publication - Factsheet

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Further and Higher Education Ministerial Leadership Group

Overview of group which brings together further and higher education leaders to deal with the immediate situation and plan the recovery phase.

15 Apr 2020
Coronavirus (COVID-19): Further and Higher Education Ministerial Leadership Group

The COVID-19 Response: Further and Higher Education Ministerial Leadership Group was set up in March 2020. 

The group brings together brings together further and higher education leaders to deal with the immediate coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and plan the recovery phase. 

Purpose and remit

The Ministerial Group will be an action-focused leadership forum for government and its agencies to come together with the sector and:

  • share information, gather intelligence and discuss the response to key challenges across the tertiary sector as a result of the COVID-19 situation
  • unblock any issues where government can help do this
  • enable us to progress, align and support the communication of  the response across the tertiary sector
  • corral the sector’s contribution to the economic and broader civic response
  • begin planning beyond the immediate term/for recovery

It will consider the following areas:

  • teaching, qualifications, admissions
  • student wellbeing (financial and other)
  • staff/worker wellbeing (financial and other)
  • institutional financial sustainability
  • supporting economic and civic society recovery
  • indirect impacts and contributions

The Ministerial Group does not replace existing governance and decision making mechanisms at government, agency and individual organisation level.

Reference /stakeholder/sectoral groups

In order to enable focused discussion on priority issues at meetings and make progress on the most significant issues, individual sectors or organisations may wish to form reference groups to agree issues for escalation to the Ministerial Group. Existing mechanisms can be used for this purpose. 


The Ministerial Group will operate as long as required, initially meeting weekly for two weeks. It will then move to fortnightly and frequency will remain under review.

Membership is determined by the Scottish Government, and will be reviewed regularly as will the remit of the Ministerial Group, to ensure that it continues to add value to the evolving situation. The Scottish Government will provide secretariat function. 

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


Members of the group are:

  • Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, Richard Lochhead (Chair)
  • Shona Struthers (Chief Executive, Colleges Scotland)
  • Carol Turnbull (Principal, Ayrshire College)
  • Lydia Rohmer (Principal, West Highland College)
  • Paul Little (Principal, City of Glasgow College)
  • Sally Mapstone (Principal, St Andrews University)
  • Nigel Seaton (Principal, Abertay University)
  • Gerry MacCormac (Principal, University of Stirling)
  • Alastair Sim (Director, Universities Scotland)
  • Mary Senior (Scotland Official, UCU)
  • Deborah Shepherd (National Officer for Further and Higher Education, EIS)
  • John Gallacher (Scottish Organiser (Further Education Lead), Unison)
  • Matt Crilly (President, NUS Scotland)
  • Fiona Robertson (Chief Executive, Scottish Qualifications Authority)
  • Karen Watt (Chief Executive, Scottish Funding Council)
  • David Robb (Chief Executive, Student Awards Agency Scotland)
  • Neville Prentice (Senior Director, Service Development and Delivery, Skills Development Scotland)
  • Alan Sherry (Chair, Community Learning and Development Standards Council)
  • Susan Stewart (Director of The Open University in Scotland)
  • Dr Ailsa Crum (Head of Learning and Enhancement for Scotland, QAA)
  • Alison MacLean (Regional Officer, Unite Scotland)
  • Lorna Gibbs (Director of Advanced Learning and Science, Scottish Government)
  • Linda Pooley (Deputy Director of Colleges, Young Workforce and SFC Sponsorship Division, Scottish Government)
  • Roddy Macdonald (Deputy Director of Higher Education and Science Division, Scottish Government)
  • Danielle Hennessy (Ministerial Leadership Group Lead, Scottish Government – secretariat)