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.