Funding Scottish higher education

The Scottish government yesterday published its draft Budget for the year 2012-13, and its spending plans in subsequent years. The principles underlying its higher education plans are summarised in the document as follows:

‘Maintain free access to higher education by ensuring that the opportunity to learn is based on ability to learn, not the ability to pay. We will invest significant sums in higher education over the period of this Spending Review. This settlement for universities, when taken together with our proposals on fees for students from the rest of the UK and the measures to improve efficiency across our institutions, will ensure that we maintain a university sector that is internationally competitive and truly excellent in world terms.’

In financial terms the funding for universities will increase in the coming year by 8.2 per cent, a significant allocation of resources during a period of general budgetary cutbacks. This indicates a determination on the part of the government to deliver on its promise to bridge any emerging funding gaps between Scotland and England and therefore ensure Scotland’s universities remain competitive. Achieving this without tuition fees or student contributions in Scotland may be difficult, but the government is showing a willingness to maintain a stable university sector that is welcome.

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