It’s far too early to tell, but the recent executive briefing by chair of court Tony Brian (see posting below) may be a helpful acknowledgment that things need improved in the governance of the university. However, it was really too difficult to be certain, given this was a ‘briefing’ with the parameters set in a way that precluded any real debate on what has been clearly incompetent management by our university’s executive over a substantial number of years.
The staff survey clearly shows what the staff think and the unions have made their points on this so we don’t want to belabour the points again here (though we are intent on achieving their resolution).
In passing however it needs to be noted that the totally disrespectful way it has been treated in The Caledonian magazine would be laughable if it wasn’t so disgraceful.
If court wants to see what is wrong in GCU in microcosm, they should consider the raw results as published, and then look at the spin put on them in this publication.
How to take the issues forward?
Firstly we believe there is a logical inconsistency in arguing (as the chair of court did), that changes need to be evidence based, and then arguing (as the university secretary did) that the people who could provide exactly the evidence needed – the unions at GCU – are somehow out of the loop of discussions with court. This is complacency at its worst, and threatens to devalue any claim of the court that they are looking at GCU’s serious situation, in a serious manner.
Of course there are many stakeholders in the University… so we say why not speak to them all. Limiting yourself to the assertions of a group who less than one in 5 of our staff trust, is not serious governance and won’t be seen as such by the Scottish community. People including the press, are aware of what has been happening here and the general expectation in the Scottish community that meaningful change needs now to happen at GCU should not be under estimated.
Some additional issues were raised where further dialogue is also needed. What is the role of staff governors? Do they ‘represent’ or just ‘voice’ views? The staff governors themselves are aware of the contradictions of their positions. This needs looked at.
According to the university secretary, the disappearance of the court minutes from the university web site, seemed ‘inadvertent’ and possibly linked to resourcing. We welcome that and look forward to their re-appearance, plus their availability in formats which are accessible to disabled members of our community.
Finally we were interested to see that there will be ‘external input’ into a review of the effectiveness of court. Whether or not court will have the courage to publish the outcome of such a review (apparently under discussion), will be emblematic of whether the GCU is moving on from a ‘closed shop’ approach, to that of open governance.