5.70 We wish to acknowledge forcefully that the contribution of Scottish higher education to the economic success of Scotland and the UK is due to the professionalism and dedication of the thousands of academic and other staff employed in higher education. The National Committee has made a range of recommendations about staffing issues which we wholeheartedly endorse. Annex H details the numbers and profile of staff in Scottish higher education providers. We wish particularly to draw attention to the lack of available data about non-academic and support staff in Scotland and strongly believe that this data should be collected in future. There are few staffing issues which are distinctive to Scotland and this section therefore considers these few in more detail whilst endorsing the findings and recommendations of the National Committee.

5.71 Demographic profiles of institutional staff are good and, as Table 2 at Annex H shows, it is only in the colleges of education where only 0.3 per cent of staff are less than 30 years of age, and 44.4 per cent are over 50, there may be indications of future logistical problems. In the institutions we visited, we encountered great enthusiasm and drive, on the part of staff, for their work.

Pay and conditions
Pay and conditions for staff in Scottish higher education institutions are handled separately, on a pre-1992 model, as a result of historical precedent. Currently the eight pre-1992 universities are part of UK-wide machinery which negotiates pay on a national basis. The former central institutions are part of Scotland-wide arrangements and the Conference of Scottish Centrally-Funded Colleges (CSCFC) still carries out this function. The contracts of employment of staff in the former central institutions are particularly inflexible and are, in our view, at odds with the demands which will be made to improve the effectiveness and value-for-money of modern higher education institutions. We expect the review of the framework of employment which the National Committee is proposing, to address this issue.

We are also aware that the further education sector in Scotland has moved to local pay-bargaining and have noted that Sir Stewart Sutherland is currently leading a group considering whether pay and conditions in all Scottish higher education institutions should be negotiated on a Scotland-wide basis. To facilitate diversity and responsiveness and to meet individual institutional needs in the longer term, we have concluded that higher education institutions may need to develop local arrangements. We believe that this will ensure that institutions can meet the particular demands which will be made of them.

5.74 A key issue for Scotland, as for the rest of the UK, is the need for pay and conditions of service to be more closely and explicitly linked. We therefore welcome the National Committee's recommendation for an independent review committee to report on the framework for delivering pay and conditions of service for all staff in higher education.

Evidence from UK and Scottish sector bodies revealed a strong belief that the status of teaching and teachers needs to be raised within higher education institutions. We have noted that, in 1995, as part of its aim to promote continuous quality improvement, the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council (SHEFC) introduced a 1 million Staff Development Initiative to assist institutions in addressing issues arising from their individual teaching quality assessment reports. We have noted earlier, however, our belief that the key to raising the status of teachers in higher education must be a more structured approach, on the part of institutions, to the initial training of lecturers and subsequent staff development through encouragement of membership of the proposed Institute of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education.

The National Committee has made a number of suggestions about the casualisation of staffing arrangements in higher education. We believe it is also important that employment policies do not develop as an ad hoc response to immediate crises, but instead are deployed as part of a broader institutional strategic plan.

5.77 We are aware of the SHEFC Contract Research Staff Initiative which is aimed at promoting good practice in the career management of contract research staff, improving counselling and careers advice provision for contract research staff, developing an information register on contract research staff vacancies and facilitating the implementation of the requirements of the recent Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals CVCP/Research Council Concordat. We have noted that, through encouraging improved employment conditions, SHEFC intends that the Scottish higher education sector will develop a competitive edge in attracting and retaining the best researchers and thus help develop research quality and research income through making the sector attractive to research workers. We have commended this approach to the National Committee. We therefore propose that all staff should be integrated into staffing plans and should be eligible for personal and career development.