NUS Scotland has called for proper public investment in universities, in response to a report published (Thursday 19 September) today by Audit Scotland.

The report on found:

  • Universities have sustained cuts of 12 per cent in real terms over the last seven years to 2017/18, with the university sector now facing a deficit of £1 million (July 2018)
  • There is “significant variation” in the financial health of Scottish universities, with surpluses concentrated in three of the four ancient universities, while income has reduced at nine universities of Scotland’s 18 universities 
  • Tuition fees replaced Scottish Funding Council (SFC) grants as the single largest source of income for the sector in 2017-18

Commenting, NUS Scotland President Liam McCabe said:

“Today’s report underlines concerns that are held by students in Scotland about the sustainability of funding of our universities. We need a fully funded sector, not one which is increasingly reliant on fee paying students.

“As NUS Scotland President, I will continue to work with our partners to demand proper public investment in the education sector. That means the best educators in our classrooms; a wide variety of courses and classes; well funded support services; and a cost-of-living support package that is fit-for-purposes and tied to the Real Living Wage.

“The message coming from Scotland’s students is clear: our colleges and universities need funding, not hollow rhetoric. If education really is the Scottish Government’s priority, they need to prove it with meaningful, sustained investment. Students deserve nothing less, and that is the case NUS Scotland will be making as we approach the next Budget.”

Delegates at NUS Scotland conference in March of this year, passed a motion calling for sustainable public investment in colleges and universities. The motion reads:

Scottish budget: less rhetoric, more funding!

Conference notes:

  1. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has outlined that education is the “defining and driving priority” of the Scottish Government.
  2. Despite this, the Scottish Budget 2019-20, passed by MSPs on 21 February 2019, sees a real terms reduction in funding for day-to-day costs at Scotland’s colleges and universities.

Conference believes:

  1. Continued cuts to college and university budgets will negatively impact on the experience of Scotland’s students, whether that is through a reduction in teaching staff, courses on offer or available support services.
  2. If education is the priority of the Scottish Government then we need to see investment – not cuts – in our colleges, universities and, most importantly, our students.

Conference resolves:

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  1. Continue to campaign for a fully-funded education sector that can attract and retain the best staff, offer a wide variety of courses and classes, provide the support services our diverse student population need, and a student support system that meets the living costs our students face.
  2. Work with Colleges Scotland, Universities Scotland, trade unions and other key partners to lobby the Scottish Government to ensure they move beyond their usual rhetoric and fully fund the further and higher education sectors.

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