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Students call for change at University of the Highlands and Islands


By Louise Glen

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Alan Simpson.
Alan Simpson.

A student body is demanding cuts from management, not lecturers, after a senior pay survey shows the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) to be highest in Scotland.

Alan Simpson, president of the Highlands and Islands Students Association (HISA) said talks on the integration of management at UHI must take place immediately to reduce its annual £4.7 million senior pay bill to protect frontline and student-facing staff.

A UHI spokeswoman defended the unique nature of its make up of 13 independent colleges and research institutions, as well as the university itself, and said the figures were not comparable to other universities.

Earlier this month a voluntary redundancy scheme was launched at Inverness College UHI.

Mr Simpson said: "The institution's end of year financial statements show that the university partnership spends approximately £4.7 million a year on senior management pay. This is £3.2 million more than St Andrews University, and £3.3 million more than the University of the West of Scotland, an institution that has a similar number of students to the University of the Highlands and Islands and its partner colleges."

He continued: “The UHI partnership is currently spending a significant amount more on senior management pay than any other institution in Scotland. Savings need to be made, and the university can do so by using the strength of the partnership to share resources and services.

"HISA is calling for talks on integration to begin and steps to be taken immediately."

A spokeswoman for UHI said: "The UHI is a partnership of 13 independent colleges and research institutions offering a full range of both further and higher education courses from access courses to PhD.

"In addition to the university itself, there are also 13 senior management teams in our partnership.

"The figure quoted by HISA regarding 'senior management pay' is an aggregated total of all these 14 organisations. It is not comparable to the University of St Andrews, or the University of the West of Scotland, who do not have similar student numbers to our partnership – we had nearly 37,000 students studying with us this academic year at both college and university level."

She said: "We also cover the largest geographical area of any campus-based university or college in Scotland and have the largest student population in Scotland."

She continued: "Our university partnership has made great progress to improve the way we work, both individually and collegiately. We see the challenges ahead and are working hard as a university partnership to address these in a way that enhances the experience of all our students, no matter where or what they are studying.

"As a tertiary education provider, we are optimistic that our partnership can build on some of the fantastic opportunities ahead, while being realistic about the obstacles in our way."

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