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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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

Innovation and diversity help Scotland's 19 universities and higher education institutions take a leading place on the world stage. Download the new Universities Scotland infographic detailing why we consider a Scottish higher education to be one of the best in the world.


Universities Scotland has received legal advice from Anderson Strathern which explores the issue of residency in charging student fees and suggests it may be possible to rely upon a residency requirement for access to preferential fees and drants regimes as long as that requirement is applied to all students regardless of their nationality and can be objectively justified.

Download the legal advice here.

Commenting on the legal advice received, Alastair Sim, Director of Universities Scotland, said:

“The legal advice we have received would appear to identify new ground upon which it would be possible for the Scottish Government to build a policy solution to the issue of rest-of-UK students coming to study in Scotland if Scotland were to become independent.  This will need to be developed further by the Scottish Government but this new advice is a positive step closer to finding a workable solution which is in everyone’s interests.

“Universities Scotland remains neutral on the issue of Scotland’s constitutional future: our job is to ensure that the proponents of all constitutional options are developing proposals which enable universities to support Scotland’s success. The legal advice which we commissioned is an important part of that process. It usefully indicates a new way to address a priority issue for universities, supporting our policy objective that we should welcome students from the rest of the UK and further afield but in manageable numbers, in a way that is affordable and sustainable and crucially, in a way that protects places for Scottish students at Scotland’s universities.”

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Universities Scotland responds to the result of the referendum on Scottish independence

Responding to the result of the referendum on Scottish independence, as declared on 19 September 2014, Professor Pete Downes, the Convener of Universities Scotland, said:

“The electorate has made its choice and we fully respect the decision they have made for Scotland’s future.

“The university sector is proud to be rooted firmly in Scotland and to be a central part of the nation’s economic, social and cultural wellbeing. Universities are ambitious for Scotland’s success under any constitutional settlement, and we intend to continue to compete amongst the world’s best for our teaching, our research and the attraction of talent.

We do not believe in standing still, nor do we see the outcome of this referendum in those terms. We will continue to work closely with the Scottish and UK Governments to secure the best possible funding and policy environment for our higher education institutions, in the interests of Scotland’s success.”


Students vote Scotland as the best place to study in the UK in 2014

Responding to the publication of the results of the 2014 National Student Survey (NSS) published today [Tuesday, 12 August 2014], a Universities Scotland spokesperson said: "Students have endorsed Scotland's universities as the best place to pursue a higher education in the UK, with overall satisfaction reaching a three-year high at 87%. For new students starting their courses in September, and for prospective students looking to apply for entry in 2015, this is a big vote of confidence from their peers already studying in Scottish institutions. Looking at the detail of survey, Scotland's universities recorded improved or equal satisfaction from students in 21 out of 22 measures this year, including on level of feedback, teaching, academic support, learning resources and personal development. The survey results reflect institutions' commitment to continuous self-improvement as they look to provide world class higher education and the best possible student experience. As well as being the best place to study in the UK, official figures published earlier this summer show Scottish universities are producing the UK's most employable graduates with the best rates of positive destinations of work or further study."