That a Principal Should Have Principals

What do you think of the Pricipals views:-

‘We are not just running away’

But many staff and students believe that’s exactly what is happening. Currently dozens of staff stand to lose their jobs, and the current intake of students as well as the whole of Dumfries Dumfries stands to lose a vital teaching facility…

What do you think?

‘We are not just running away’

By Giancarlo Rinaldi
South of Scotland reporter, BBC Scotland news website

It was supposed to be a routine appointment for the University of Glasgow principal Sir Muir Russell. He had been booked for some time to speak at the Easterbrook Hall in the Crichton grounds.

His subject – The Future of Higher Education in Scotland.

That appointment was made before it emerged his institution had halted undergraduate admissions in Dumfries.

It became the focus of local protest on Tuesday night but also an opportunity for Sir Muir to explain the position to students and staff.

  The concern of the court of the university was the size of the deficit or cross subsidy it was having to make to Crichton
Sir Muir Russell

His message came in clear, measured terms – the university simply could not afford to continue taking undergraduates at Crichton.

“It has to seek a way of ending that deficit,” he said.

“The first decision that has been taken is that it won’t take an intake of students this autumn.”

There may be opportunities of some other kind of involvement, possibly at postgraduate level, but that is still the subject of talks.

“It is too soon to say what that might be, but it is important that we have these discussions in a reasonable, calm manner,” said Sir Muir.

“We are looking at a range of things.

“We are hoping to be able to come back to the university court with information about that.”

One thing which he said was not in doubt was the future of students already enrolled.

‘Academic structure’

“We have made it clear that the full-time students should be able to complete their degrees,” he said.

“We made it clear to our staff that we don’t expect any change to the academic structure in year 2007-08.

“The concern of the court of the university was the size of the deficit or cross subsidy it was having to make to Crichton.”

He said last year’s figures showed a heavy loss on operations in Dumfries.

“I don’t think I could accept that £879,000 represented a trivial or acceptable sum.

“We have to work very hard to get all of our faculties into balance.

  I wouldn’t like to say there was a broken agreement but there was certainly a disappointed expectation
Sir Muir Russell

“To see that there is a drag of that size is not really going to be acceptable in terms of the overall strategy of the university.”

He said that only significant extra funding could allow the operations to continue.

“The university has made quite strenuous representations to the funding council,” he said.

“Some additional funding came through but not enough.

“I wouldn’t like to say there was a broken agreement but there was certainly a disappointed expectation.”

Overall, he said, the university could be “proud” of what it had done in Dumfries.

“I think that we have made a very serious contribution in terms of our involvement,” he said.

Market tested

However, he believed the point had come where it was clear the Crichton would continue running at a significant loss.

“We have not, I think, got to a position where you could say that there is so much uncertainty about the long term that we would be justified in keeping trying.

“We have tested the model, we have tested the market.

“Seven to eight years is quite a time to do that and it has been done very carefully and with a great deal of commitment.

“It is not like we have dipped our toes in the water and just run away.”

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/03/21 12:35:47 GMT


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2 Responses to That a Principal Should Have Principals

  1. Alison Young says:

    Well, when I asked a question about the funding in front of the head of the business school at the main campus he was quite ready to say that the university had to choose where to spend its money and that they had decided to spend it on the (incredibly plush) new business school at the main campus!

    I think its great that Muir really sounds on the defensive there. He’s saying the future is “uncertain” rather than definitely over.

    I think we should be pushing now for a delegation of Crichton students and staff (academic + non academic) to be able to make a presentation to the court/senate (I get confused about the decision making structure)

  2. Pingback: Comment - That a Principal Should Have Principles « IWW Scotland

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