Records of Scottish Universities Management Services & Efficiency Unit

Scope and Content

. The main series of records are:

  • Minutes and papers 1966-1989;
  • Annual reports 1970-1990.

Administrative / Biographical History

In 1965, the Committee of Vice-Chancellors & Principles established an Operations & Methods sub-committee to investigate organisation and methods studies of university administrative procedures. Two schemes were to be set up, one in Scotland and another in the North-East of England. A meeting was held at the University of Glasgow , Scotland, in January 1966  to discuss the matter further and it was decided to establish the Universities of Scotland Organisation & Methods Unit which officially cam into being in May 1967  . The Unit was to investigate administrative processes and provide advice on the effectiveness of mechanisation for a specific task or range of tasks within the Scottish universities, namely, the University of St Andrews , University of Glasgow , University of Aberdeen , University of Edinburgh , University of Strathclyde, Glasgow , Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh , University of Dundee and University of Stirling . The unit was linked to the unit in the North-East and a similar unit in London.

The Scottish Unit's scope was defined as "likely to have reference to administrative and financial procedures, the management of non-academic, staff and property, and the purchase of consumable stores. The Unit will not be concerned with constitutional matters and will not be expected to advise on teaching methods." The Unit was run by a director and a committee of management consisting of 2 representatives of each university who met 3 times a year. The unit was based at the University of Edinburgh. Three staff were employed, one an accountant, another who was clerical and a further assistant with a broad experience of organisations & methods. Projects and subsequent reports were completed by the Unit, often looking at an individual university's processes but also looking at issues that affected all the universities, such as the validation of university entrance qualifications. Other projects studied and reported on in the first 3 years of the unit included purchasing and other aspects of catering in halls of residence, the medical faculty office organisation and staffing, and admissions routines to the University of Edinburgh. During it existence the unit undertook 274 projects.

In 1987,  the Unit was renamed the Scottish Universities Management Services & Efficiency Unit . In 1989  , a reassessment of the unit's function was undertaken due to several factors. The anticipated retirement of the unit's director and senior staff, the decision of individual universities not to commit themselves to open ended support for the unit, and the prospect of significant expenditure by universities on the setting up of internal audit groups to meet new financial requirements, all questioned the continued need for the Unit. In May 1989  , the committee of management recommended to the Standing Committee of the Scottish Universities that the unit be closed. The unit finally closed in September 1989  although the final reports were published in 1990  .


The material has been arranged into series as shown in the scope and content. Within series, items are arranged chronologically.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Unit Director : University of Edinburgh : 1990

Other Finding Aids

Digital file level list available in searchroom

Manual file level list available at the National Registers of Archives in Edinburgh (NRA(S)) and London (NRA)

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the University Archivist

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use & condition of documents

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 248 procedures

Custodial History

Held in Edinburgh University and transferred directly to Glasgow University Archive Services in 1990


None expected

Related Material

No related material


No known publications using this material

Additional Information

This material is original

Collection catalogued by members of Glasgow University Archive Service staff. Catalogue converted to Encoded Archival Description by by David Powell, Hub Project Archivist, 2 October 2002 and Andrew Semple, Administration Assistant, 25 October 2002. Edited by Gemma Tougher, Assistant Archivist (Cataloguing) 22 December 2011.