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Scottish Universities Need More Government Money

Posted by Richard Ward

Image courtesy of Flickr, Creative Commons

Universities in Scotland have said they need more money from the government to ensure a more stable financial footing.

The request came after a report from the public spending watchdog said the value of central funding had dropped significantly.

Audit Scotland found there was a 12% real-term cut in funding over seven years, although the Scottish government said it invests more than £1bn in universities each year.

Universities Scotland, which represents the sector's interests, said universities were facing increased costs, further funding cuts and more reliance on borrowing.

Convener Prof Andrea Nolan said: "The next budget in December provides a vital opportunity for Scottish government to increase the level of teaching and research funding to universities in real terms."

"This would go some way to ensure that institutions receive appropriate levels of public funding for the services they deliver for Scotland and it would support institutions onto a surer financial footing."

The report said that for the first time Scotland's universities as a whole now receive more money from tuition fees than they receive from government grants.

As a general rule of thumb, older universities are less dependent on government money than the former colleges and polytechnics which became universities in the 1990s.

In particular, Glasgow, Edinburgh and St Andrews were generally better placed to respond to funding pressures.

In 2017-18, more than half of Scotland's universities were running at a deficit, with universities only receiving 92% of the amount they need to cover the cost of teaching UK and EU students.