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Higher Education Governance (Scotland) Act 2016

Section 3: Relevant criteria and process

10.Section 3 provides that, whenever a vacancy arises in the position of senior lay member, the governing body of an HEI must delegate to a committee the responsibility of devising the relevant criteria with respect to the position, and ensuring the efficiency and fairness of the process for filling that position. The relevant criteria include the availability, skills and knowledge considered by the committee to be necessary or desirable to exercise the functions of the senior lay member and command the trust and respect of the other members of the governing body, the academic board of the institution and the staff and students of the institution. Section 3 does not prescribe which committee these responsibilities must be delegated to nor whether it should be an existing committee or a committee convened for this specific purpose. In practice, these responsibilities may be delegated to committees similar or equivalent to the nominations committees that many HEIs have for the purpose of making appointments to the governing body. However, under sections 3 to 8, the role of such a committee will not be nomination: it will be one of oversight of the recruitment process and selection of election candidates according to whether or not the committee is satisfied that an applicant meets the relevant criteria.

11.Each time the recruitment process for the senior lay member is undertaken, subsection (3) requires the committee to produce a publically available report. The report must give an overview (without disclosing individuals’ identities or confidential information) of certain information. In particular, the report must disclose the number of applicants for the position of senior lay member. It must also, to the extent that consent to disclosure has been received from the applicant, disclose the protected characteristics listed in section 149(7) of the Equality Act 2010 in respect of: the overall number of applicants; the applicants invited to interview; and the applicants entitled to stand as candidates in an election for the position of senior lay member. The relevant protected characteristics are: age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. The precise timing of the publication of the report is a matter for each HEI as long as such a report is published each time the recruitment process for the senior lay member is undertaken.

12.Subsection (4) requires that the committee which is tasked with these responsibilities under section 3 must include at least one staff member and at least one student member. Subsection (5) clarifies that the governing body of an HEI can, itself, make rules to further govern the appointment process, within the parameters set by sections 4 to 8.

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Explanatory Notes

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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