New country, same issues?
I am sure that as I get more and more familiar with Scotland I will gain new insights into higher education from a Scottish perspective. For those who don’t know much about the scene in Scotland, one interesting place to start might be to look at New Horizons, the report of the group with the rather clunky title Joint Future Thinking Taskforce on Universities. In essence this lays out the agenda that has been considered, but never properly articulated, in Ireland: how to align higher education strategy with national needs.
There are clearly a number of similarities between Scotland and Ireland as regards higher education, though also some differences. For example, the capacity of Scotland to create a major research fund along the lines of SFI may be limited. But then again, Scotland has resourced teaching more generously than Ireland. Still, what both countries face is a crisis in public funding. And in both countries this is leading to funding cuts for universities, of substantial proportions.
And so in that setting, and I would suggest not surprisingly, tuition fees or student contributions are a live issue for debate right now in Scotland as much as in Ireland. Scotland has quite deliberately not followed the English example of introducing top-up fees, but as the level of English tuition fees has continued to go up this has created a funding gap between the two jurisdictions. What is interesting is that the impact of this has now become a matter of concern to student representatives, and this has led to NUS Scotland (the National Union of Students) to declare that it would consider plans for a student contribution. This, as we have noted in this blog, is in line with at least some anecdotal evidence that some Irish students would countenance tuition fees in order to secure educational quality.
In this context at least, the same debate (or a very similar one) will accompany me as I move from Ireland to Scotland next year.Explore posts in the same categories: higher education, politics comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.