Principal Mahoney of UWS and Universities Scotland
Andrew Denholm, who should know, mistakenly claims today that Scottish universities want a say on tuition fees. He’s mixed up the 19 individuals who are the principals and the exclusive members of something called Universities Scotland with the multitude making up Scottish universities. Here’s how they describe themselves:
‘Universities Scotland is the (sic) representative body of Scotland’s 19 higher education institutions. We develop policy on behalf of the university sector and campaign publicly on higher education issues.’
They’re wrong about the ‘the’ there. A university consists of the thousands of students attending it, the thousands of staff working in it, the governors and the principal. University principals do not speak for the whole university unless they’ve consulted everyone and have a consensus on something.
They absolutely do not have a consensus on tuition fees. Indeed, almost everyone in Scottish universities apart from a handful of senior staff wants nothing to do with fees.
I’m reminded now of University of the West of Scotland principal, Craig Mahoney’s media intervention in 2015, when he called for a debate on tuition fees in Scotland. he had only just arrived in Scotland from Tasmania via England so knew SFA about the Scottish education system and its 500-year history of universal free education.
In a BBC report at the time, we read from the Student Association:
‘Students at UWS and across Scotland have consistently rejected the idea of tuition fees. This consumerist ideology creates unnecessary barriers to education. We firmly believe that the reintroduction of tuition fees is wrong – morally and economically. The Students’ Association and its members believe education is a right not a privilege and that students and staff at UWS are losing confidence in the principal over this matter.’
Feeling safe in my imminent retirement, I emailed the entire University to remind Mahoney of the error of his thinking. No other member of staff openly supported him, but most were justifiably too scared to say anything.