New university partnership aims to help shape the future of Scotland’s third sector

By Press Office

Queen Margaret University (QMU), Edinburgh has teamed up with the Association of Chief Officers of Scottish Voluntary Organisations (ACOSVO) to offer a new postgraduate study opportunity for public and third sector leaders and senior staff in Scotland.

QMU’s new Master of Public Administration (MPA) has been designed in association with ACOSVO to include the innovative Leadership Exchange programme, which will enable all students to benefit from workplace learning within another organisation. Leadership Exchange is a Workforce Scotland initiative led by ACOSVO and has paired more than 180 leaders from across public services since the programme's inception.

The workplace learning experiences will expose learners to different organisational contexts, enabling them to learn through different approaches to practice.  All workplace learning will be supported by the workplace learning module on the QMU campus.

The new internationally recognised professional postgraduate degree is a public sector equivalent to the Master of Business Administration (MBA).  The MPA will help those who lead smaller, community-based organisations and those who head up some of the largest charities and public sector organisations in Scotland to develop their professional skills and knowledge.

The aim of the MPA is to enable learners to build on their professional experience by studying key developments in public administration in order to more effectively deliver public service outcomes in a rapidly changing environment.

The programme addresses some of the key challenges facing our public services such as financial accountability, partnership working, governance, effective leadership and responding to change.  It also offers options for both full-time study and part-time study, which will fit with busy working lives.

The delivery of the MPA draws on academic expertise from a range of backgrounds such as administrative justice, public management and social policy. The input of research active academics will be complemented with expert guest speakers and visits to key public administration sites such as the Holyrood Parliament in Edinburgh.

Dr Ian Elliott, Senior Lecturer in Business and Public Services at QMU, said: “We’re really pleased to be working in collaboration with ACOSVO to provide cross-sector knowledge exchange and work experience as part of our new MPA. 

“QMU is the only MPA provider offering an element of workplace learning through the ACOSVO Leadership Exchange programme.  By working with appropriate bodies, such as ACOSVO, we are always strengthening our links with industry.”

ACOSVO will co-ordinate and manage the Leadership Exchange programme to help find suitable workplace exchange experiences for students.

Chief Executive of ACOSVO, Pat Armstrong, has been closely involved in the development of the new MPA, particularly in providing support for the workplace element through participation on ACOSVO’s Leadership Exchange Programme.  Commenting on the organisation’s new partnership with QMU, she said:  “ACOSVO is delighted that the MPA is being developed at QMU.  It recognises the importance of excellent public service leadership alongside the need to collaborate across sectors and boundaries to keep the needs of people and communities at the centre of everything we do.” 

Notes to Editor

For further media information please contact Jonathan Perkins, Press and PR Officer, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, tel: 0131 474 0000, Email:

For further information on ACOSVO and the Leadership Exchange Programme please contact Emily Martin, Leadership Exchange Development Officer, ACOSVO, Edinburgh, T: 0131 243 2755, E:

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