University Services – organisational structure


The University of Glasgow's central services (the University Services) are currently organised into a series of units of different sizes.  Most are led by senior professional services directors, while some smaller units report directly to the Chief Operating Officer or Deputy Secretary.  The Finance team reports via the Director of Finance to the Principal, while a central Research Strategy team reports via two part-time Vice Principals.

There appears to be general agreement that the time is ripe for a reorganisation of the central services, with several goals in mind:

•    To ensure that all services are led by senior professional managers who can provide strategic direction in line with, and in support of, the University's overall strategy
•    To facilitate close articulation of central services with the support base in Colleges, Schools and Research Institutes
•    To assist with implementation of the transformation programme, with the aim of reducing overlap and duplication, and maximising efficiency and effectiveness

To this end, I propose to restructure the services into eight directorates, all of which will be represented in the University Services Leadership Team.  The College Heads of Professional Services will also be full members of the team.  The USLT will provide a forum for collectively addressing changes to business processes and practices, and considering allocation of resource across both central services and Colleges. In addition, depending on their role, the directors will either be members of the Senior Management Group (as in the case of the Director of Finance) or will attend its meetings when relevant items are being discussed.

The focus of all the University Services will be on supporting front-line academic activities, namely teaching, learning and research, and on enhancing the wider student experience.  A key aspect of this will be ensuring the quality of support to academic leaders in the Principal's Office (the Principal, Senior Vice Principal and Vice Principals).  At the same time, the services will continue to ensure compliance with all external legal, regulatory and reporting requirements as well as with the University's own policies and procedures.  The definition of support will be broad enough to encompass those areas where professional services may be expected to lead initiatives, working with academics and support staff and students from across the University. Executive Directors of University Services will continue to undertake outward facing and representative work as appropriate.

All service directors will be assessed partly on the feedback received from key users of services, including academic leaders, Colleges and Schools and, where appropriate, students; services will also be benchmarked against provision at other research-intensive universities.


The proposed directorates are as follows:

1.    Human Resources

This will remain largely as is.  The focus will be on further developing leadership and professional development provision, supporting organisational change, continuing to support effective performance management and on enhancing services which are currently under workload pressure, such as staff recruitment.

2.    Estates & Commercial Services

Again, this service will remain largely as is.  A restructuring is currently underway to ensure that the directorate can cope with the pressures of a massively expanded capital programme.  

Commercially focused operations will report to the Director of Estates & Commercial Services via a new appointee who will be charged with significantly enhancing the quality of provision and generating more income.  Functions where there is a strong emphasis on generating income from customers, such as Sport, the Print Unit and the University Gift Shop, will be incorporated into this function.

3.    Information Services

This directorate will combine the Library and IT Services.  It will work closely with the VP (Academic & Educational Innovation) and others on the development and implementation of a coherent information strategy, the provision of user-centric services for students and staff, the provision of first-class learning spaces and the optimal use of enterprise systems and technology as a whole.

4.    Student & Academic Services

This new directorate will bring together the current Student Services team, most of the Senate Office functions, the Learning Enhancement & Academic Development Service; and Open Studies; it will also lead on relations with the student associations and will assume responsibility for student mobility (with the exception of Study Abroad function).  Student & Academic Services will provide professional support for the relevant Vice Principals.

5.    External Relations

The External Relations directorate will encompass the existing MARIO team and the Development and Alumni Office.  It will continue to work closely with the Public Affairs & Communications team but will not line manage this function; similarly, it will work with the Planning team on student number forecasting.  As noted above, responsibility for student mobility (with the exception of incoming students under the Study Abroad Programme) will pass to the Student & Academic Services directorate.  The External Relations directorate will also provide support for the relevant Vice Principals.

6.    Research & Innovation

The Research Services directorate will provide high-level support to the VPs for Research and Innovation & Knowledge Exchange. It will be key to the development of strategy and policy and will support preparation for the next REF as well as continued growth of research income.  

The directorate will have the capacity to draft strategy papers across all aspects of research, innovation and knowledge exchange, and will assist with external representative work.  It will support the development of the Research Hub and help to coordinate major inter-college bids for interdisciplinary research grants, as well as doctoral training programmes.

7.    Finance

The Finance function will remain largely as is but the Finance Director (who reports to the Principal) will be a full member of the University Services Leadership Team.

8.    Strategy & Planning

The eighth directorate will cover strategic planning, business intelligence, governance, compliance, public affairs and communications.  This directorate will work closely with the Principal's Office and will have the capability to support the Principal, Senior Vice Principal and other senior officers in developing strategy.

The Director of the Hunterian Museum will continue to report directly to the Chief Operating Officer.

Transition arrangements

We propose to move to the new structure from 1 August 2017.  Where executive directors are not in post by that date, interim arrangements will be put in place.  Senior posts will be filled either through slotting, internal advertisement or external advertisement, with use of recruitment consultants where appropriate.


It will be essential that the reasons for implementing a revised structure are clearly communicated and understood across the University; to this end, we have developed a communications plan involving written communications, one to one meetings and group meetings.  Besides addressing the restructuring plan, we will take the opportunity to communicate a set of key messages about the main focus and priorities of the central services and the way they will work with the Colleges.

Leadership and professional development

Alongside the savings agenda, the proposed restructuring and changes to business processes which fall under the transformation programme, we will continue to develop and implement the Glasgow Professional agenda.  This will help to raise the leadership and management capability across the services and also provide staff with the assurance that they will have the opportunity to develop their careers at Glasgow to full potential.

David Duncan
9 June 2017