1.1 The terms of reference of the National Committee of Inquiry required it to take into account the distinctive features of higher education in different parts of the United Kingdom (UK). To meet this requirement, and given the particular distinctiveness of Scottish higher education, it was considered appropriate that a Standing Committee of the National Committee be established to examine these features in detail and to advise the National Committee accordingly. Like the National Committee, the Scottish Committee had a diverse membership, covering all of the stakeholders of higher education, including representatives from further and higher education institutions, staff, students, employers and schools. The terms of reference and membership of the National Committee and Scottish Committee are in Annexes A and B respectively.
1.2 To fulfil the mandate in our terms of reference to advise the National Committee on issues pertaining to higher education in Scotland, we maintained close contact with the National Committee throughout our work. Similarly, written and verbal reports of the work and progress of the National Committee (including minutes of National Committee meetings) were received at meetings of the Scottish Committee. Dual membership of both committees of three members has been especially helpful in maintaining contact and in ensuring that the committees were kept informed of one another's progress. This contact was especially valuable in the latter stages of our work as the committees began to formulate conclusions.
1.3 We were also kept informed of the progress of the working groups of the National Committee and received and considered their interim and final reports to the National Committee. At the same time, we advised the working groups on relevant issues, as appropriate, throughout the duration of the Inquiry.
1.4 In order to meet our terms of reference effectively and in a timely manner, we considered and agreed to adopt the working methods adopted by the National Committee. These arrangements called for: regular meetings of the committee; the receipt of presentations; the consideration of submissions and evidence; the commissioning of appropriate research; and institutional and other organisational visits within and outwith Scotland.
Regular meetings of the
The receipt of presentations
The consideration of
submissions and evidence
1.9 Beyond these formal discussion forums, we also participated in a number of individual meetings, seminars and conferences with higher education stakeholders within and outwith Scotland. These offered the opportunity for us to listen to and engage stakeholders, including employers, in focused discussion on particular topics or concerns. The Chairman of the National Committee had an introductory meeting with representatives of interested Scottish groups at the University of Glasgow on 21 October 1996. A seminar was held on 9 December 1996 in Stirling at which Scottish small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) were invited to discuss higher education from their unique perspective. This was one of a series of six such seminars held across the UK. On 18 February 1997 a consultation conference was held in Edinburgh, at Napier University, again as part of a UK programme, which invited comments and discussion from interested Scottish organisations and institutions on a wide range of higher education issues. Members also met with the Universities Association for Continuing Education (Scotland) on 3 December 1996, and the Forum for Scottish Education on 26 February 1997, to hear their views on higher education.
The commissioning of