Last of the Westland Whigs

In the late 17th century, the 'Westland Whigs' were the radical descendants of earlier Covenanters who had defied the absolutist rule of Stuart kings in south west Scotland.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Legal remedies

Crichton Campus. Current situation : Stalemate

Summary of Conclusions

That any potential University of Glasgow Crichton Campus students who will be denied access to their intended course of study in September 2007 have the option of seeking a legal remedy -either through a Judicial Review of the University of Glasgow’s decision or through the European Convention on Human Rights .

A negotiated solution to the current situation is the preferable option. But if no such resolution can be achieved, then the option of legal remedy must be seriously and effectively pursued.

On the 14th February Glasgow University issued the following statement:

The University of Glasgow Court has taken a decision not to admit any undergraduate students to the Crichton campus in September this year. The Court will consider, in due course, and in the light of further discussions with the Scottish Funding Council and partners future options for any Glasgow presence at Crichton. The University has consistently maintained that we need further funded student places to sustain our provision at Crichton on a break-even basis. The Scottish Funding Council has declined to provide this support. The interests of current students at Crichton will be protected throughout their remaining course of study. The University has been in touch with applicants for 2007 entry to inform them of this decision and to advise them on their options.

On the 15th February , in response to a Scottish Parliament Member’s Business Debate brought by Dr Elaine Murray MSP, Deputy Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning Allan Wilson MSP mad e the following statement:

I pay tribute to Glasgow University for its support of Crichton campus and I hope that it will maintain its connection with and support for Crichton. I encourage the funding council to complete its work to develop the academic strategy for the region as soon as possible. All partners should be involved in that process.
I am happy to meet the funding council and the University of Glasgow and to do whatever I can to bring the partners together to reach an amicable solution to the issues that have been raised, to ensure that the important future of higher and further education, in which we are investing seriously in south-west Scotland, is delivered to the maximum advantage of the people who will benefit from that investment.

However, as Dr. Murray explained in her opening remarks, “an apparently irreconcilable difference of opinion has arisen between the University of Glasgow and the SFC.”

I suggest it is therefore unlikely that Allan Wilson can resolve this difference.

If Mr. Wilson cannot resolve the ‘difference of opinion’ and the University of Glasgow’s decision not to admit any undergraduate students to the Crichton campus in September this year remains, then the following questions arise:

1. Do the students affected by this decision have any right of appeal? If so, to whom?

2. Do the students affected by this decision have any right to ‘an effective education and access to educational establishments already in existence‘ ?

On the first question, it is unclear to whom any such affected student could appeal. If so, then a Judicial Review may be the only alternative option. This requires that:

There must however be a reviewable act, failing or decision in the first place. That requires there to be an act which has taken place, or a failure to act, or a decision which has actually been made and which has the effect of altering the rights and obligations of the prospective petitioner, or deprives them of a benefit or advantage they have had or would otherwise be entitled to.

In this case, the decision which has actually been made by the University of Glasgow has ‘deprived’ the affected students of ‘ a benefit or advantage they would otherwise have been entitled to’ I.e. a place at the Crichton Campus in September 2007.

On the second question, the students affected may choose to argue that the University of Glasgow’s decision falls within the scope of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. This would be in accordance with Human Rights Scotland’s interpretation. [ See below].

Any student affected by the University of Glasgow’s decision could there for seek redress via this legal route.

I am sure that any such potential Glasgow University Crichton Campus students and/ or their families would receive the active support and encouragment of all those involved in the campaign to keep a University of Glasgow presence in Dumfries and Galloway.

Alistair Livingston

Is there a right to education?
There is a right to an effective education and access to educational establishments already in existence. There is also a right to recognition of studies that have been completed. The right to education is subject to State regulation. This raises some difficult issues e.g. what is the best type of education for a child with special needs? If the parents and the local authority disagree, who decides what is an effective education? To exclude a child from school is only permissible if an alternative means of education is provided; if it is not the public authority might be challenged under the Act.
Parents have a right to ensure their child's education is appropriate to their own religious or philosophical convictions. However the government will only enforce this right as long as it is compatible with efficient education and does not incur unreasonable public expense.

European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

Section I , Article 10:

1.Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.
2.The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or the rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

1. Enforcement of certain Rights and Freedoms not included in Section I of the Convention

The Governments signatory hereto, being Members of the Council of Europe,
Being resolved to take steps to ensure the collective enforcement of certain rights and freedoms other than those already included in Section I of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms signed at Rome on 4th November, 1950 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Convention'),
Have agreed as follows:

No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religions and philosophical convictions.

RESERVATION At the time of signing the present (First) Protocol, I declare that, in view of certain provisions of the Education Acts in the United Kingdom, the principle affirmed in the second sentence of Article 2 is accepted by the United Kingdom only so far as it is compatible with the provision of efficient instruction and training, and the avoidance of unreasonable public expenditure. Dated 20 March 1952 Made by the United Kingdom Permanent Representative to the Council of Europe


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