Resignations from Glasgow board are no fond farewell

10th April 2015 at 01:00
Four members have left amid accusations of `poor governance'

Further education in Glasgow has been thrown into turmoil with the resignation of two more members of the regional board that oversees the city's colleges, only days after a council education director and a university principal also quit.

Student representatives Barclay McCrindle, from Glasgow Clyde College, and Andrew Aitken, from Glasgow Kelvin College, both stepped down as members of the board on Tuesday, citing concerns over governance.

This came only days after Maureen McKenna, education director of Glasgow City Council, and Pamela Gillies, principal of Glasgow Caledonian University, announced their departures.

In his resignation letter, obtained by TESS, Mr McCrindle said he had not taken the decision to resign lightly but felt he was left with "no other option". He said his concerns "start and stop with how the region is being led at board level, and are exacerbated by ongoing issues of poor governance".

Sound of silence

In March, TESS revealed that the annual running costs of the Glasgow Colleges' Regional Board were estimated at pound;376,000, which is more than 10 times the costs incurred by Lanarkshire, the only other multi-college region apart from UHI.

The latest events come as the Scottish Funding Council told TESS it planned to take action over the fact that the Glasgow regional board had so far failed to reach the standards required to distribute FE funding across the city.

In his resignation letter, Mr McCrindle said of this development: "That the SFC has been forced to move back the date at which Glasgow can become responsible for its own budget and running speaks volumes."

He also complained that the board had been encouraged to sign a letter of complaint to the SFC about its treatment.

In addition, Mr McCrindle pointed to recent "issues of bad governance" at local colleges, and said: "We would have expected to see strong and decisive action at a regional level in relation to those, but there has only been silence."

He concluded that the students of Glasgow were being "badly let down" and that he could not "in good conscience remain as a member of a board allowing that to happen".

`A mess of its own making'

In her letter of resignation, Ms McKenna said that her concerns had been made "acute by the draft letter of complaint to the Scottish Funding Council" circulated by Henry McLeish, the former first minister of Scotland who chairs the regional board.

She said the partnership between Glasgow's schools and colleges was making life better for many of the city's most disadvantaged young people and could do much more in the future. "I do not believe that the board is presently able to play a constructive role in that partnership," she wrote.

NUS Scotland president Gordon Maloney told TESS: "We've seen some simply unacceptable examples of poor governance in the Glasgow region in the last few months, to the point where the board can't even be trusted by the Scottish Funding Council to run its own affairs or manage its own budget.

"That would be bad enough if it didn't mean that students weren't being hugely let down, and [they're] the ones most affected. Rather than being able to focus on what should matter most - the experience for students - the college board is spending its time caught up in a mess of its own making."

Mr Maloney added that the time for "passing the buck" had stopped, and said the Glasgow regional board and its chair needed to "step up and recognise the mess they've created and how they can improve it for students".

The Glasgow Colleges' Regional Board was not available for comment as TESS went to press.

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