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Governor skills sets and attracting young people – University of the West of Scotland

Margaret Gibson, University of the West of Scotland lay Court Member, Member of the Policy and Resources Committee, Chief Executive of Women’s Enterprise Scotland and Funding Director of Rummle Gumption Ltd discusses how a diverse governing body is needed to ensure that a range of views and experiences are considered in discussions.

At UWS, we have a very diverse range of students, including many students from disadvantaged backgrounds and students who are older than the national average age of students. Only with a diverse governing body can we ensure that a range of views and experiences are considered in discussions about course development and university resources, which reflect the needs of our diverse student body.

I believe that governors with business experience can really add value to the diversity of a university court. With fewer public funding streams available, universities have to work hard to adapt and become more self-sustainable by fully utilising alternative funding opportunities. In my experience, governors who are small business owners, in particular, tend to keep a close eye on finances and are very creative in attracting additional income streams for academic research by working closely with industry. This creates a virtuous cycle, where a company provides research funding, the university shares the research with the company, which then might be used by the company to create new jobs and employ more graduates - an ‘everybody wins’- type situation.

Attracting young people to the court needs to be a priority. Young people tend to be very tech and data savvy, skills that are crucial for any governing body which wants to develop the university as a 21st century institution. We need to dispel young people’s fears about lacking the skills to be governors and emphasise the importance of giving back through volunteering. In my role as chief executive of a community interest company, I will be encouraging young people from my own networks to apply for upcoming court elections.

Margaret Gibson, University of the West of Scotland lay Court Member, Member of the Policy and Resources Committee, Chief Executive of Women’s Enterprise Scotland and Funding Director of Rummle Gumption Ltd

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