Colleges across Scotland should make the pursuit of equality a priority during the coming year, according to new guidance published by the Scottish government today.
Shirley-Anne Somerville, the further and higher education minister, has put equality and fairness at the heart of her guidance to universities and colleges for 2018-19.
Setting out her expectations for the sector in a letter to the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), published today, she said: “The Scottish government, SFC and colleges and universities must strive to provide leadership on ensuring people are treated fairly, with respect and can access opportunities regardless of background or personal circumstances.”
The SFC should “take a leading role in supporting board appointments across college regions which reflect the diverse nature of the communities which they serve, and meet the government’s objective set for public boards that 50% of their non-executive members are women by the end of 2022”.
In terms of fairness when it comes to pay, Ms Somerville stated: “I expect all colleges to demonstrate progress towards achieving Living Wage Accreditation. Paying the living wage and becoming accredited not only treats people more fairly, it benefits the economy and sends a positive signal about the organisation into the wider community.”
Her letter also highlights the importance of address violence against women and girls as well as ensuring that support services are in place to help students with mental health difficulties.
Ms Somerville commented: “Our expectation is to see demonstrable progress in delivering a further and higher education system that is more equal, accessible and nurturing to all of our students, no matter their background or personal circumstances.”
Responding to the guidance, Mike Cantlay, SFC chair, said the funding body “will continue to ensure excellence and equity in Scotland’s colleges and universities”.
He added: “We share the minister’s ambition for equality and fairness and will work with colleges, universities and our partners to drive forward progress in all areas of equal access.”