Although media attention has rightly been on the inflated redundancy packages paid to some college principals and senior managers as a consequence of the Scottish government’s FE reforms, it is perhaps now time to reflect on the regulatory framework that allowed the situation to arise.
All colleges are subject to external audit on behalf of the Auditor General for Scotland. It would be interesting to see whether the brief to which auditors were working featured colleges’ governance arrangements. It seems improbable, too, given obvious potential conflicts of interest, that the Scottish Funding Council did not require all proposed redundancy arrangements to be scrutinised for their probity.
Additionally, the college merger process appears to have received specific funding from the SFC. One has to assume that these funds were handed out on the basis of need and not formulaically. If that was so, one must also surmise that a case would have had to be made for the specific amounts requested by each individual institution – and it is hard not to conclude that the SFC was not fully apprised of how the funds would be used by applicant colleges.
Given that the first minister has now declared herself “appalled” by these settlements, it seems some scrutiny of the SFC’s possible role in this debacle is long overdue.
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