Universities are run like fiefdoms, little empires that have sprung up which interconnecting social networks have developed which control them.
In Scotland, in the ancient universities, the Principals all belong to the same private club.
The Royal Society of Edinburgh!
Their members have a stranglehold on all the top jobs in higher education, below them there are others such as the association of university administrators.
I have come across the association of university administrators previously in their spiel they say their members are there to help each other.
So you find the same practices and in some cases the names of identical departments, I am looking at services across the university spectrum.
In general it is the poorest Scottish students that make up a minority in their own country.
In places like St. Andrews, which years I ago I dubbed The University of St. Andrews (England), their record is appalling.
Yes, they do allow a few people from deprived backgrounds in, but then you would do in order to rake in Scottish taxpayers cash via the Scottish Funding Council, which is loaded with universities vice principals on its board and committees.
It’s a racket.
Now, Principals are unhappy that the Scottish Government may soon have the power to interfere in the management of independent universities.
Apparently they wish to keep their fiefdoms intact from outside scrutiny and this is causing widespread anxiety because the Post-16 Education Bill that would allow ministers to impose conditions on universities to adhere to "good practice in governance".
Leading the charge of the unhappy is University of Edinburgh principal Sir Timothy O'Shea said:
"We have a principle anxiety about the legislation. We are very supportive of the whole Bill in terms of intentions with regards to widening participation, greater efficiency of the sector and greater accountability. At the same time, we are very aware that the Scottish universities are seen as being particularly successful, and the outside commentators relate that success to the responsible autonomy that we discharge."
"We are anxious that there may inadvertently be a potential reduction in responsible autonomy and that some future administration might be in a position to intervene in a way that would be unhelpful to the success of universities."
Glasgow School of Art director Seona Reid said:
"The issue of a code of governance is something that all universities, or whatever size or nature, supports absolutely wholeheartedly”.
"But to enshrine it in legislation risks the possibility that for future administrations it could be misused to apply a uniformity of governance model that would be inappropriate to a diverse sector."
We support the idea but no thanks.
Labour learning and skills spokesman Neil Findlay suggested that conditions may have to be imposed to address the shortcomings of institutions that have "failed miserably" to widen access.
Findlay cited Aberdeen University with their record of 2.2% of students from deprived backgrounds, and St Andrews University, which has 2.6%.
Conservative education spokeswoman Liz Smith said:
"Scotland's higher education institutions have a distinguished reputation and it is very clear from the evidence we heard today that the primary reason for this success is the responsible autonomy under which they have operated over a long period of time”.
And the Conservatives wonder why people in Scotland won’t vote for them.
Ms. Smith’s attitude is ‘pass the buck’, not take responsibility and maintain the status quo.
In wider sense, problems in higher education go well beyond this little spat, the entire sector has been allowed to fester for many years soaking up public money without accountability.
A question which should be asked is what is the role of Royal Society of Edinburgh because it seems that if you are not a member of that private invitation only club you are effectively ‘barred’ from becoming a Principal.
The SNP Government should go a lot further than just trying to get a few extra people from the most deprived backgrounds into university, they should be looking at what many would call a ‘cabal’ in higher education.
And you don’t have to dig too deep to see what is going on, it’s a racket!
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University