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Go Back to the List April 14, 2023
SNP 'failing abysmally' as university and colleges suffer £13m drop in funding

Everything from research to funding spots for Scottish students and the quality of education is to be hit by the SNPs latest budget decision as Humza Yousaf gets a warning

Universities and colleges are heading for “managed decline” after the Scottish Government dropped their capital budgets by just under £13million.

The cut has been slated as "unacceptable" given the SNP's claim that education is a top priority and instead is an example of how the party is "failing abysmally across the board when it comes to education."

The First Minster Humza Yousaf has been warned by leading academic Professor Dame Sally Mapstone, convener of Universities Scotland, who said the high standard of education and research is being sacrificed.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf accused of 'woeful silence' on parents' concern for transgender policy in schools

Universities were given a flat cash settlement in the latest allocations from the Scottish Funding Council. Universities Scotland, the representation of the sector said as many as seven institutions were facing cash cuts.

The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) said investment of more than £1.2billion in teaching, the same level as last year, would “secure opportunities for Scottish domiciled students to study and gain lifelong skills at college or university”.

Scottish Conservative shadow higher education minister Pam Gosal MSP said: “These unacceptable budget cuts fly in the face of SNP claims that education is a top priority.

“The £12.8m drop in the university capital budget is deeply worrying and yet another example of how the SNP are failing abysmally across the board when it comes to education.

“It is galling to see that the college lifecycle and backlog budget has not increased, particularly given the concerns raised by the education, children and young people committee in their recent report."

Professor Mapstone, the vice-chancellor of the University of St Andrews, said she was particularly concerned about research funding, telling the Times: "With inflation still sitting in double figures, universities will find it difficult to manage real-terms cuts of that scale,”

'Presiding over managed decline cannot be the direction that the new administration actively wants to take...'
She added: “Provision for students, who need a greater intensity of quality support after two tough pandemic years, is likely to be affected.

“Research funding is also concerning. Not enough is being invested in the research excellence grant to reward institutions for their world-leading research performance last year. A fixed funding pot means most institutions are being cut in real terms.

“Presiding over managed decline cannot be the direction that the new administration actively wants to take. The sector needs to get back to a more sustainable financial footing.”

Ms Gosal said: “Our colleges and universities have been warning us for years that they are on the brink. They desperately need a healthy injection of funding and a multi-year settlement to prevent managed decline. Without government backing, Scottish institutions will struggle to compete internationally.

“I am very disappointed that these legitimate concerns of colleges and universities seem to have fallen on deaf ears.”

Karen Watt, the SFC chief executive, said the announcement maintained funding in teaching, learning and research, “supporting Scottish students to flourish."

A Scottish government spokesman said: “The 2023-24 budget allocated nearly £2bn to Scotland’s universities and colleges through the Scottish Funding Council, demonstrating our commitment to supporting our learners and institutions.

“The latest higher education student statistics showed that 33,880 Scottish domiciled, full-time, first degree entrants attended our universities in the 2021-22 academic year — a 31.4 per cent increase since 2006-07.

“Ministers welcome the publication of indicative core funding allocations by the Scottish Funding Council, maintaining overall funding levels in teaching and research despite the challenging fiscal environment.

“This will enable colleges and universities to move forward with their planning for the academic year 2023-24.

“Ministers have made an additional £5.5m capital investment in university innovation and this year we are able to continue our £5m funding to support digital poverty across colleges, universities and community learning and development providers.

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Written by Jessica North,
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