Required levels of governance at North Glasgow College were “unacceptable”, according to a report published today by the Scottish Parliament’s Public Audit Committee.
The report – The 2012/13 audit of North Glasgow College: governance and financial stewardship - found that the college’s Remuneration Committee was unaware of its responsibilities and of the existence of Scottish Funding Council guidance on severance arrangements. This resulted in the arrangements for, and transparency around, decisions over severance pay falling short of the standard required when dealing with public monies.
The Committee is also seeking assurances from the Scottish Government and Scottish Funding Council that action has been taken to strengthen governance procedures.
Public Audit Committee Convener Paul Martin MSP said:
“The Auditor General reported that she found a lack of transparency around the process of agreeing staff severance arrangements at North Glasgow College. It was clear to the Committee that there were concerning levels of ignorance amongst those in decision-making roles about the proper process for agreeing severance deals.
”We find it unacceptable that there was no audit trail of the Remuneration Committee’s decision-making being reported to the College Board. While we note that there was no finding of fraud or illegality, the evident poor governance and the lack of openness and transparency in the decision-making process are serious concerns.
“The College seemed to be unaware of its responsibilities in respect of governance around severance. We are seeking an urgent explanation from the Scottish Funding Council as to why it did not re-issue its guidance to colleges at the time of the mergers. Had that guidance - which was nearly ten years old - been actively brought to the attention of colleges, those in charge of stewardship of public funds could not have claimed to be unaware of what was expected of them.”
The Public Audit Committee published ‘Scotland’s Colleges’ on 28 September. Last week the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning announced a taskforce to look at the quality and resilience of college governance.
Read the Public Audit Committee’s report
Read the Auditor General’s report on North Glasgow College