Universities Scotland


The higher education sector in Scotland is diverse. It is made up of 15 universities, the Open University in Scotland, an art school, a conservatoire, and Scotland's Rural College (SRUC).

Universities Scotland has produced briefing papers which give an introduction to the main areas of our work within the higher education sector in Scotland. There are also facts and figures briefings which contain current data about each main activity. If you would like more detailed information, please contact the relevant member of staff through the contacts page.

All the publications listed below are available to download in PDF format. If you are having problems viewing the publications, you may need to download the free Acrobat Reader.

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Scotland's university sector is committed to continual improvement of institutional governance, to ensure that is effective, inclusive, transparent and accountable. This has very recently been further modernised, through development and implementation of a new Scottish code of good higher education governance. Structures that reflect principles of good governance are vital in order to protect the autonomy that has made Scotland's higher education a global success story and to ensure the accountability that gives government and stakeholders confidence in our institutions. Read Universities Scotland's full university governance consultation response

Universities Scotland believes there are specific opportunities to craft a new devolution settlement which will enable the university sector to make an even stronger contribution to a fairer and more prosperous Scotland within the United Kingdom. Read Universities Scotland's submission to the Smith Commission

This paper sets out the implications of CfE for university admissions, and is intended to serve as a helpful brief for universities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Universities Scotland has produced it in response to suggestions from our 19 higher education institutions. Around 4,800 students of Scottish-domicile applied to at least one higher education institution in England, Wales or Northern Ireland through UCAS in 2014 therefore the pedagogic and qualification changes introduced by CfE will have an impact on higher education institutions beyond Scotland. Read the paper here

The introduction of Curriculum for Excellence in schools in Scotland is intended to result in changes to how pupils learn. New and revised qualifications are being introduced and there is a renewed emphasis on wider learning opportunities. Universities Scotland's statement on Curriculum for Excellence summarises the individual statements on Curriculum for Excellence that higher education institutions have produced. Read the statement on Curriculum for Excellence.

Universities Scotland commissioned this literature review of widening access interventions which have been evaluated as successful, drawing not only on recent published literature, but also on the outcome agreements of the nineteen Scottish higher education institutions for 2012/13. Widening access has been made one of the policy priorities of the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) to be addressed in universities' outcome agreements for 2012/13. Read the report

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Advances on access to university for students of all backgrounds shows that taking a wide approach to widening access pays off

Figures released today by the Scottish Funding Council [Wednesday 25 March] in its ninth Learning for All report show increases in the number of students starting university from across a wide range of under-represented groups including: students living in Scotland's most deprived 20 and 40 per cent of neighbourhoods - up 10.1 per cent and 8 per cent respectively on last year; pupils from low participation schools - up 11.7 per cent on last year; and students who enter university direct from college with full recognition of their Higher National qualification - up 9.2 per cent on last year. Read the full Universities Scotland news release.


Universities Scotland's response to the Scottish Government's Consultation on a Higher Education Governance Bill

Universities Scotland has today, Tuesday 3 February, published its response to the Scottish Government's university governance consultation. 

You can read the response in full
here. Professor Pete Downes, Convener of Universities Scotland, has commented on a number of aspects of the university governance consultation, which can be read here.

On university autonomy and diversity, Professor Downes said: "Principals believe in inclusive, transparent and robustly accountable models of governance and to that end we have common ground amongst our stakeholders and Government. We are utterly convinced that universities are most successful when they can operate with high levels of autonomy as the evidence from around the world supports this. Therefore some of the proposals are very worrying as they would unquestionably move Scotland towards a less autonomous model of university governance and impose greater uniformity in a one-size-fits-all approach."


UK research assessment finds Scotland's higher education sector is "world-class" and delivering outstanding impact

Today (Thursday 18 December) sees the publication of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 results for all 154 higher education institutions across the UK. Every one of Scotland's higher education institutions undertakes reseach judged to be of "world-leading" quality with 77 per cent of Scottish research submitted to REF2014 judged to be "world-leading" or "internationally excellent". Scotland also performs more highly than the UK average on impact of its research; a new measure for REF2014. 85.8% of Scotish research was judged to be at 4* or 3* leavels which means the research has had "outstanding" or "very consideratble" impact (compared to the UK average of 83.9 per cent). Read our full news release.