Universities: what is the Scottish solution?

For understandable reasons, a lot of attention over recent weeks has focused on the future funding framework for English universities in the light of the publication of Lord Browne’s report. This report does not apply to Scotland, and as we have also noted here, the Scottish government plans to retain a system of ‘free’ higher education without tuition fees. But it also recognises that there is a serious funding problem, and it has invited suggestion for a ‘Scottish solution’ that will ensure its universities remain viable.

At a recent graduation ceremony the Principal of Abertay University in Dundee, Professor Bernard King (who is also Convener of Universities Scotland), has warned about the risks facing Scottish higher education in the light of budget cuts, and has said that a clear picture of how universities are to be adequately funded is now needed urgently. The Scottish government is planning to publish a Green Paper on the topic shortly. In the absence of tuition fees, but with the likelihood of funding cuts continuing over the next few years, Scottish universities will have to find ways of targeting additional revenue streams and may be driven away from traditional core activities in doing so. Right now they are at risk of being seen as having lower capacity for quality than English universities. Certainly whatever is to be done needs to be agreed quickly.

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3 Comments on “Universities: what is the Scottish solution?”

  1. anna notaro Says:

    @’Right now they are at risk of being seen as having lower capacity for quality than English universities.’ Granted, additional revenue streams, as you put it, will be necessary, still I find it difficult to agree with this equation: absence of tution fees= lower capacity for quality. The ‘capacity for quality’ has already been proven to be there and it won’t disappear overnight like in a stockmarket crash…

  2. iainmacl Says:

    Yes I agree with Anna. In fact it is laughable to even imply that there is any possibility of scottish institutions losing out to those in England over ‘quality’. Indeed you could argue that the ‘capacity for quality’ of the students is enhanced when they are not forced into huge levels of debt from the outset. As for institutional income, yes it is challenging, but so much depends on the outcome of the elections next May.

  3. Fred Says:

    I agree with anna and iainmacl. I undertand that there may be some need for further resources and a very careful management of spending is necessary but it is very difficult to see how the quality will suddenly drop. Scottish universities have still a proven quality in research and (especially) in teaching. A student who is leaving a university without debt (or at least with less debt) can find other choices that a student with debt simply cannot afford.

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