Education in Scotland

Anderson Strathern

Anderson Strathern's multidisciplinary team has a focus on higher further and secondary education, providing regular advice to many of Scotland's leading universities, alongside public sector bodies, on matters ranging from governance, employment, corporate, IT and IP alongside development and construction projects as well as associated litigation and employment tribunal proceedings. Alun Thomas heads the education and employment groups and is particularly experienced in the university sector.

Practice head(s):

Alun Thomas

Testimonials

I would say that Anderson Strathern as a firm is professional, knowledgeable, adaptable and friendly. They are well placed to provide advice on a number of different areas of our organisation, allowing us to have a joined-up approach. From the direct experience that I have had with the firm, I consider that they provide a high level of expertise in the area of professional regulation. They provide excellent advice and adapt quickly to our changing priorities and approaches in relation to casework.

The primary partner that I have dealt with is Catriona Watt. Catriona is a dedicated professional who is highly knowledgeable in the field of professional regulation.

Key clients

The University of Edinburgh

University of St Andrews

University of Strathclyde

University of the Highlands and Islands

Glasgow Caledonian University

The University of the West of Scotland (UWS)

Edinburgh Napier University

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Ayrshire College

City of Glasgow College

Edinburgh College

Fife College

Glasgow Clyde College

New College Lanarkshire

North Highland College UHI

Shetland College UHI

South Lanarkshire College

West College Scotland

Fettes College

Inverness College UHI

St Leonards School

Gordonstoun

Loretto

Merchiston Castle School

Cargilfield Prep School

Belhaven Hill School

Fairfield International School

Universities Scotland

APUC (Advanced Procurement for Universities and Colleges)

Skills Development Scotland

College Development Network

The City of Edinburgh Council

Midlothian Council

Fife Council

Work highlights

  • Acting for Midlothian Council in placing an appeal to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Education Chamber) following the appellant challenging the client’s decision to refuse their placing request for their son to be educated at Saltersgate school, a special school for children with severe and complex additional support needs.
  • Continued advice to Shetland College on the potential merger between the client and NAFC Marine Centre.
  • Represented and advised Midlothian Council on its ongoing primary school redevelopment project concerning the construction of three new primary schools and associated community hubs.
  • Advising the University of West of Scotland and Edinburgh Napier University on their participation in the Scottish Teachers’ Superannuation Scheme and the Local Government Pension Scheme, and on the role of a participating employer.
  • Advised Edinburgh Napier University on IP policies, R&D collaboration agreements, IP commercialisation agreements, IP assignation issues, studentship agreements and other commercial contracts.

Brodies LLP

Brodies LLP acts for an extensive roster of further education and higher education sector clients alongside local authorities and other public sector bodies, who benefit from the firm's wide-ranging education sector expertise. Brenda Scott and William McIntosh are among the key contacts and specialise in sector-specific commercial and corporate work but the group's expertise also extends to employment and immigration law issues, governance, construction and student matters, including associated disputes. In September 2019, Ken Ross joined from Harper Macleod LLP, increasing the practice's bench strength in sector-specific developments and projects.

Practice head(s):

Brenda Scott; William McIntosh

Testimonials

Brodies has provided an excellent level of support over the past year. They make significant effort to understand our organisation in order to contextualise advice and are proactive in bringing their experience in the sector and with other clients to our attention where relevant.

Key clients

Scottish Funding Council

The University of Edinburgh

Queen Margaret University (QMU)

Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA)

Dollar Academy

University of St Andrews

The City of Edinburgh Council

Falkirk Council

Merchiston Castle School

East Renfrewshire Council

Work highlights

  • Advising Queen Margaret University (QMU) on the outsourcing of facilities management, and on university and trade union recognition, among other matters.
  • Advising the University of Edinburgh on governance and student issues, such as student discipline cases, policy changes and litigation.
  • Continues to advise the University of Edinburgh on various HR matters, including the termination of fixed-term contracts and other issues.
  • Providing assistance to the University of Edinburgh with various commercial matters, such as strategic joint ventures and arrangements for the university.
  • Continues to advise Dollar Academy on employment matters and general governance issues.

CMS

With a focus on the higher education sector, CMS acts for an extensive roster of Scottish universities, providing advice on construction projects, including procurement and state aid matters, alongside employment, corporate, commercial and IP issues. Main contact and expert in the last two segments, Carina Healy, specialises in academic technology transfers and strategic partnerships, with a particular focus on the life sciences sector. IP specialist Laurence Ward retired in April 2019.

Practice head(s):

Carina Healy

Other key lawyers:

Darina Kerr; Gillian MacLellan

Testimonials

The breadth of experience of the team is a major positive. The team is responsive, knowledgeable and really understands how the HE sector works.

There is a genuine sense of teamwork, both internally and with the client.

Each one shares common qualities of honesty and attention to detail which has been the basis of an excellent working relationship.

Key to that success, I believe, is the strength of their team. The firm has a large team with a strong focus on the HE sector. As such it has the capacity and expertise to handle a large volume of work of varying complexity.

Our satisfaction with the service we receive from CMS is perhaps best demonstrated by the length of our relationship with them – in excess of 20 years.

I have found CMS to be highly engaged, always available and very responsive to our needs. Their advice tends to strike the right balance between appropriate legal protection and commercial pragmatism. In addition, there is a real and demonstrable focus on added value which, for a publicly funded charity, is a real plus.

The scope and depth of CMS’ team, including locations across the globe, combined with a local office very much focused on its long-term clients make it unique.

Carina Healy is a real stand-out. Highly motivated, fully engaged, with a strong work ethic. Carina is a point of difference. She blends legal acumen with commercial pragmatism to deliver time and again. She stays across the detail and is particularly adept at identifying solutions to potential roadblocks.

I would draw particular attention to Carina Healy who provides an excellent service.

Key clients

University of Glasgow

Stratified Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre (SMS-IC)

Glasgow School of Art

University of Dundee

Heriot Watt University

University of Sheffield

University of Aberdeen

James Hutton Institute

Glasgow Clyde College

Newlands Junior College Limited

East Renfrewshire Council

Fife College

Work highlights

  • Advising the Glasgow School of Art (GSA) on a number of sensitive issues following the 2018 fire, including on its submission to the Scottish Parliament committee.
  • Advising the University of Glasgow on a £1bn campus redevelopment project.
  • Representing the University of Glasgow in three separate employment tribunal claims involving allegations of race discrimination and victimisation, whistleblowing and unfair dismissal.
  • Advising the University of Glasgow on various procurement and state aid matters, from day-to-day operational procurement to more strategic projects.
  • Advising Heriot Watt University on the construction procurement of the Robotarium development being constructed on campus.

Shepherd and Wedderburn

Shepherd and Wedderburn has a strong profile for employment, pensions and immigration law work on one hand and for construction and projects assistance on the other, with the latter segment including procurement and commercial real estate instructions. The team's expertise in corporate, insolvency-related and student matters complements this offering, which is frequently called upon by universities, schools and government departments. Employment specialist Neil Maclean heads the team; corporate expert John Rutherford retired in April 2019.

Practice head(s):

Neil Maclean

Testimonials

The team is very responsive and proactive in addressing new matters that we bring to them or matters they think we should be aware of.

They are always well briefed, thorough, well read and informed. It is rare that they offer advice we do not follow. They have strength in depth as well and are very efficient and handing over tasks etc., when one of their teams is unavailable. They do not miss deadlines and they always do what they say they are going to do.

The team is very personable whilst remaining very professional. They are dynamic, enthusiastic and engaging.

In addition to sound technical capability the practice has robust sectoral knowledge.

Neil McLean is demonstrably committed to the interest of his clients and selfless in the amount of time and effort he is willing to commit to problem solving.

Key clients

The University of Edinburgh

University of Glasgow

University of Aberdeen

South Ayrshire Council

West Lothian Council

Fife Council

Merchants Company of Edinburgh

Hutchesons’ Educational Trust

University of St Andrews Superannuation and Life Assurance Scheme

Craigholme School

Work highlights

  • Advising the University of Edinburgh on a wide range of matters; recently, this included advice on student accommodation, legacy and charitable status issues, procurement matters, employment and pensions cases. The team also assisted the client with its review of the options of becoming carbon neutral as part of its strategic planning.
  • Sole employment, pensions and immigration advisors to the University of Glasgow. Recently, the team provided assistance with a Home Office immigration audit and with HR issues.
  • Advising the University of Aberdeen on immigration policy compliance and on the election of its new senior governor under the Higher Education Governance (Scotland) Act 2016, among other matters.
  • Advising South Ayrshire Council on the refurbishment and redevelopment of the former Ayr Academy site in Ayr town centre, including on the terms of an early works agreement for the partial demolition of aspects of the existing buildings on the site.
  • Advising East Ayrshire Council on its procurement of new early childhood centres in Kilmaurs, Stewarton and Netherthird in a project procured using the Scottish Government’s hub initiative.

Thorntons Law LLP

Thorntons Law LLP provides further and higher education sector clients with wide-ranging advice arising from their operations. This includes constitutional and governance issues, employment, procurement, commercial real estate, collaboration agreements with international partners and dispute resolution. IP matters - another key area of expertise - are typically handled by team head Lesley Larg.

Practice head(s):

Lesley Larg

Testimonials

The Thorntons team is very proactive in looking ahead to matters of interest to us and always put our needs first. They have a genuine care for our business needs.

Thorntons provides a dedicated and responsive local team under a lead partner who, along with the wider team, provides business-relevant legal support, highlighting not just the legal issues and risks, but the wider commercial aspects that we might otherwise not have considered as fully.

The team is very professional and responsive and, having worked with us for the past couple of years, have a good understanding of our needs and return to us with work in good time.

I work closely with Robbie Francis who is very professional, reliable yet personable, who has the client’s interest at heart. He always responds to our request for legal support in a timely fashion. I have really enjoyed working with him.

Robbie Francis supports us directly from a corporate perspective. He provides clear legal and commercial insight into proposed arrangements that we discuss with him.

Lesley Larg provides clear direction to the wider Thorntons team. She ensures that the team is responsive and that queries are quickly directed to the team member most able to assist.

Key clients

Abertay University

University of Stirling

University of the Highlands and Islands

Glasgow Caledonian University

The Glasgow School of Art

Robert Gordon University

University of St Andrews

University of Dundee

The James Hutton Institute

City of Glasgow College

Dundee & Angus College

Perth College

Borders College Scotland

Inverness College UHI

Colleges Scotland

The High School of Dundee

Schools Closure Review Panel

Work highlights

  • Advising the James Hutton Institute on all aspects of its Tay Cities Deal funded projects, the International Barley Hub and Advanced Plant Growth Centre, including the structuring of the projects, grant funding terms, project governance, procurement, and commercial real estate aspects arising from the deal.
  • Advising the Glasgow School of Art on the adoption of revised Articles of Association, a replacement governing order and associated corporate governance aspects in response to the Higher Education Governance Act 2016.
  • Advising the University of the Highlands and Islands on the acquisition of the Centre for Health Science in Inverness from Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
  • Advised Abertay University on the introduction of a targeted voluntary severance scheme with a view to avoiding potential redundancies.
  • Acted for the University of St Andrews in a claim in the Intellectual Property Court of the Court of Session for interdict arising from allegations of trade mark infringement and passing off the university’s iconic red gown.

MacRoberts LLP

MacRoberts LLP has been particularly active advising higher, further and secondary education sector players on IP and data protection matters alongside commercial arrangements and employment issues, including disputes and employment tribunal proceedings. IP and data protection specialist David Gourlay is the main contact.

Practice head(s):

David Gourlay

Key clients

George Watson’s College

Renfrewshire Schools Partnership Limited

Interactive Design Institute Limited

Sumdog Limited

Dumfries and Galloway College

Work highlights

  • Advised George Watson’s College on brand protection matters.
  • Advising Renfrewshire Schools Partnership Limited on multi-million pound Court of Session proceedings regarding novel legal arguments on the interpretation of the payment provisions in a school PFI project.
  • Advising Interactive Design Institute Limited on data protection compliance issues.
  • Advised the High School of Glasgow on its admission agreements and on privacy notices for children and parents.

Morton Fraser

Much of Morton Fraser's education sector work involves employment, immigration and corporate governance matters but the practice is also well placed to handle commercial and charity-related work alongside trade mark and data protection issues. This broad offering is regularly called upon by higher education institutions alongside independent and state schools as well as various education bodies. Employment specialist David Walker is the main contact.

Practice head(s):

David Walker

Testimonials

Practical, experienced technical advice that brought structure to complex situations.

Key clients

SRUC – Scotland’s Rural College

Robert Gordon’s College

George Heriot’s School

Student Award Agency for Scotland

George Watson’s College

East Renfrewshire Council

Dollar Academy

Empiric Student Property plc

Harmeny Education Trust Limited

The MacKenzie School of English

Work highlights

  • Represented Glasgow University in the employment appeal tribunal, successfully defending an appeal by a former employee who tried to argue that all previous tribunal decisions should be set aside because a consultant psychiatrist jointly instructed in this case had been struck off by the General Medical Council for lying in a subsequent tribunal.
  • Advised a college following the suspension of its Tier 4 sponsor licence.
  • Advised the Scottish Racing Academy on the formation of this new school for the horse racing industry in Scotland, preparing its constitution, and handling its registration with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator.
  • Providing ad-hoc immigration advice to Dollar Academy, which has recently included a compliance audit prior to a Home Office visit.
  • Advised an independent school on Tier 5 sponsorship issues.

Pinsent Masons LLP

Pinsent Masons LLP is regularly called upon to assist higher education sector players with strategic projects, such as IT and data projects, alongside international collaborations, while commercial and corporate work constitutes another key element of the practice. TMT projects expert Chris Martin heads the group.

Practice head(s):

Chris Martin

Testimonials

Pinsent Masons has provided an excellent level of support. They make significant effort to understand our organisation in order to contextualise advice and are proactive in bringing their experience in the sector and with other clients to our attention where relevant.

Chris Martin is very good.

Key clients

The University of Edinburgh

Heriot Watt University

Edinburgh Business School

Jisc

Higher Education Statistics Agency

University of Aberdeen

Roslin Institute

APUC (Advanced Procurement for Universities and Colleges)

British Psychological Society

Robert Gordon’s University

Work highlights

  • Advising the University of Edinburgh on the establishment of a Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence.  
  • Advising the University of Edinburgh on the delivery of circa £75m of IT equipment.
  • Continues to advise the University of Edinburgh on a number of strategic international matters, particularly strategic collaborations with large Chinese corporate and educational entities.
  • Advising Edinburgh Business School on its corporate restructure and the reorganisation of its operations within the university to create a new combined graduate school of business.
  • Advising the University of Edinburgh and the Roslin Institute on a wide range of research and development contracts, collaboration agreements, studentship agreements and related IP matters.

Burness Paull LLP

Burness Paull LLP is experienced in assisting further and higher education institutions, private schools, local authorities and governmental bodies with sector-specific construction, procurement, property and charity law matters alongside dispute resolution. Projects and construction expert Chris MacKay is the main contact.

Practice head(s):

Chris MacKay

Other key lawyers:

James Forbes

Testimonials

The team is simply impressive. The knowledge of the industry and the education sector is clear for all to see. The client’s interests always appear to be at the forefront of any decisions, and it seems that no stone is left unturned when running a case.

Key clients

University of St Andrews

The Governors of the Donaldson Trust

Robert Gordon’s College

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow

North East Scotland College

The City of Edinburgh Council

Falkirk Council

Albyn School

The UNITE UK student Accommodation Fund

Renfrewshire Council

hub West Scotland Limited

The Oil & Gas Technology Centre

Albyn School

Aboyne After School Club

Work highlights

  • Acted for the University of St Andrews in implementing a contract that the team negotiated and concluded between the university and Fife Council for the swap with the council of title to land and buildings that are currently the secondary school known as Madras College in the centre of St Andrews (owned by the council) in return for development land to the west of St Andrews (owned by the university).
  • Advising North East Scotland College on the installation of district heating equipment and the ongoing supply of renewable heat.
  • Advising the University of St Andrews on a new music centre, a solar PV installation, and on insurance and health and safety matters that arose from a fire at its Biomolecular Science Building.
  • Advised Megagon Labs Inc on a research agreement it entered into with the University of Edinburgh.