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Higher Education Governance (Scotland) Act 2016

Section 1: Position of senior lay member

7.Section 1 requires the governing body of an HEI to include the position of senior lay member. The senior lay member is the individual who will have the duty to preside at meetings of the governing body; a deliberative and a casting vote at such meetings; responsibility for the leadership and effectiveness of the governing body; and responsibility for ensuring that there is an appropriate balance of authority between the governing body and the principal of the institution.

8.Subsection (1) clarifies that the position of senior lay member can be given any name by an HEI, and this means that an HEI could, for example, use the title senior governor, convenor, vice-convenor, chair or any other term that the HEI considers appropriate. The responsibilities set out in subsection (2) and ascribed to the senior lay member appointed through the process in the Act reflect the existing role of the senior lay member in most HEIs (irrespective of the particular title used by an HEI) and encapsulate such functions as ensuring that the members of the governing body work well together. Subsection (3) provides that when the position of senior lay member is vacant or the holder of that position is absent, another member of the governing body may be selected by the governing body to exercise any of the senior lay member’s functions. Subsection (4) provides that subsections (2) and (3) – which relate to the functions of the senior lay member – are subject to section 2, which clarifies the interaction between senior lay members and rectors at those HEIs that have a rector with statutory functions under the Universities (Scotland) Acts of 1858 and 1889.

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Text created by the Scottish Government to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Acts of the Scottish Parliament except those which result from Budget Bills.


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