Last summer the Scottish government commissioned me to chair a review of higher education governance in Scotland. Having invited and received submissions from the public, and having taken evidence from a number of people and organisations, we submitted our report, with its list of 33 recommendations, to the Scottish government last month.
Today the report was presented to the Scottish Parliament by the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Michael Russell MSP. In his speech he expressed strong support for the recommendations contained in it. Many of these recommendations are likely to be accepted by those affected, but a small number may be seen as rather radical and controversial, including the recommendation that the chairs of governing bodies should be elected. There will be further consultation on these.
But perhaps the most important aspect of our report, at least in my view, is the contrast between the model of higher education that we put forward and that which has come into being south of the border. We recommend that higher education should be seen as something deserving sustained public interest, requiring accountability and public confidence in order to succeed. We believe that Scottish universities are, and should remain, highly successful, but also that they should be part of an academic culture of critical intellectual curiosity. The detailed recommendations in our report are designed to express that culture.