From education to employment

SCOTTISH BUDGET DAY: A real term cut to university and college budgets

people sat around table

The Scottish 2023 Budget, published this afternoon (15 December), pledges a real term cut to university and college budgets, with only £46 million of additional resource committed to universities and colleges in Scotland. This comes alongside no action on the cost-of-living support for students and apprentices.

It gives colleges nearly a 4% increase to their revenue funding for 2023/24, albeit against the background of inflation at 10.1% and previous reductions, which will still necessitate tough decisions to be made by colleges across the country.  Capital investment will rise to £82.4 million from £74.7 million, representing an increase of around 10%.

Ellie Gomersall, NUS Scotland President said:

“This is a government that has turned its back on students. TheBudget offers no meaningful support in response to the cost-of-living crisis Scotland’s students are facing. 

“Student mental health is plummeting. Accommodation prices are through the roof. Students can’t afford the essentials – like heating or the cost of public transport.

“Despite their manifesto commitment to raise student support, the Scottish Government has left it stagnant, providing students with a real terms cut in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis.  

“We’re pleased that the Scottish Government have responded to our call to scrap peak train fares by announcing a pilot scheme but this is a baby step in a cost-of-living crisis that calls for confident strides. 

“This Budget was an opportunity for the government to use its full range of powers to achieve truly progressive taxation so that the richest can support those who don’t have enough to survive– including students. 

“35% of students have considered dropping out because they can’t afford to stay in education. That number will escalate the longer Ministers bury their heads in the sand and continue to delay their manifesto promises to students.”

Andy Witty, Director of Sector Policy at Colleges Scotland said:

“Today Scottish Government has recognised the vital role of colleges in assisting in the economic recovery, alleviating poverty and mitigating climate change. This change in direction of travel from the Scottish Government follows many months of discussions led by Colleges Scotland on behalf of our members, stressing the need to put students first, and setting out how colleges are critical to delivery on a host of Scottish Government priorities.

“Colleges continue to face difficult financial situations, and we appreciate Scottish Ministers are dealing with severe and challenging circumstances, but we look forward to continuing dialogue with Scottish Government in order to see firstly stability, then sustainability for the sector.  We will work closely with Scottish Government and other partners to make sure that through a period of transition, colleges are still able to play their part locally, regionally and nationally in the delivery of a fairer and more equal society.

Andy Witty added: “Colleges are the powerhouses of Scotland’s economy. Our skilled graduates contribute billions to Scotland’s economy each year, across hugely diverse industries, in every community from Kirkwall to Dumfries. Investment in colleges delivers significant gains for Scotland as a nation and allows colleges to support students at every stage of their learning journey, from part of their school experience to upskilling and re-training. Colleges want to enhance this offer and accelerate the opportunities available to students and employers across the country.”

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