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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The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) released its ninth Learning for All report on 24 March 2015. This brief pulls out some of the key facts from that report as they relate to higher education institutions and offers further analysis of SFC data. Read 'Widening access to higher education in Scotland'

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.

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University principals ask the Scottish Government to stop and think about potentially damaging governance proposals in light of strong concern from civic Scotland

Business leaders, student associations and other independent commentators have added weight to the serious concern already expressed by university leaders at Scottish Government proposals to legislate on higher education governance.The Scottish Government has published an analysis of the written responses to its consultation on higher education governance today (Thursday 9 April). A strong majority of the responses, including a great many of those received from outside of the higher education sector, raise cause for concern about some or all of the Scottish Government's proposals. The balance of such serious concerns must be reflected in the Scottish Government's response. Read the full Universities Scotland news release


University Chairs commit to a minimum of 40 per cent of both genders on boards

The Chairs of Scotland's 18 higher education institutions have today [Thursday, 9 April] announced a commitment to achieve gender equality within the membership of their governing bodies, the highest level of governance within a university.The commitment to achieve a minimum of 40 per cent of both men and women on the governing body [2], with the remaining 20 per cent of either gender, applies to the board's independent members who are defined as defined as both external and independent of the institution and who should form the majority of governing body membership. Progress against the commitment will be reviewed in 2018 which gives the sector scope to deliver change as independent members typically serve for a period of three or four years with the option of renewal. Read the full Universities Scotland news release. The Chairs' full statement on gender on governing bodies can be read at www.scottishuniversitygovernance.ac.uk.


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.