NUS Scotland: Democratising our institutions

Passed at the Student Council of 21 Jan 2016


What will we do?

  1. That NUS Scotland adopt the democratisation of our colleges and universities as a long-term strategic aim.
  2. NUS Scotland should build alliances with other organisations (staff trade unions, think tanks, research centres, education journalists and political parties) with the intention of popularising the idea of democratically run colleges and universities.
  3. To produce a strategic roadmap towards democratic institutions, outlining a case for democratic institutions and policy changes that would have to take place to achieve it. It should identify opportunities and smaller campaign aims for members to work on.
  4. To make Democratic Institutions a theme of NUS Scotland work on governance, including officer training and sessions at future events, to make sure that short term campaigns contribute to this long-term strategic goal.


What is the background?

  1. NUS Scotland already campaigns for democracy within our colleges and universities, and in 2015 published a charter for Democratic and Ethical Institutions.


What beliefs motivate the actions you propose?


  1. Principals, Vice-Chancellors and other senior managers in our colleges often undermine the needs of staff and students, by cutting courses or to save money, burdening staff with grossly unfair pay settlements, excluding students from decision-making, calling for higher tuition fees and arguing against widening access.
  2. Managers are able to behave in this way be it because they are not elected, so is very difficult for students to hold them to account. Despite progress by Students’ Associations over recent years, unaccountable power has grown with the rise of a managerial culture at our institutions.
  3. The only way to ensure that this power is used in the best interests of students, staff and communities is for our institutions to be under democratic control.
  4. Though current conditions make it hard to imagine winning democratic institutions, we have a responsibility to respond to the threat of managerial power with a broad campaign for institutional democracy.