We are a membership organisation working for the Principals and Directors of Scotland’s 19 higher education institutions. We develop higher education policy and campaign on issues where our members have a shared interest.
Proud to represent a diverse and highly successful sector
We are very proud to represent every higher education institution in Scotland and to speak on their behalf on issues that affect Scotland’s world-class sector.
Scotland’s higher education sector is one of the best in the world. It is home to 3 of the world’s top 200 universities*. Our sector has pioneered developments in teaching including an ‘enhancement-led’ approach that made students a key partner in the quality of their education. Our members excel at blue-skies research, with every institution in Scotland developing some research judged to be ‘world class’ with ‘outstanding impact’. They are actively working to translate this research into businesses, the public and third sectors where it will be of benefit to others.
In our teaching, every institution in Scotland has defined a set of graduate attributes. This advises what to expect from the student experience as well as signalling the holistic approach taken towards employability which shapes our students into global citizens, supports them to be creative, entrepreneurial and highly sought after by employers.
We believe that the sector’s diversity and autonomy are two principles that are critical to the success our sector has already achieved and to our future competitiveness.
* as defined by the Times Higher World University Rankings 2023.
We cover almost all aspects of higher education activity in Scotland from teaching and employability to research and knowledge exchange, from widening access to issues of internationalisation, funding, efficiency and governance. More recently we taken on a policy role in aspects of student and staff wellbeing such as mental health and prevention of gender based violence, where we can add value to the work of our members.
In 2021, we published a new three-year Strategic Plan which sets out how we will help our members achieve their vision for higher education. 2021-24: Recovery and Renewal outlines how we can achieve the policy and funding outcomes needed to support universities make a full contribution to an education-led, green and inclusive economic recovery.
Higher education is devolved to the Scottish Parliament, with funding and policy decisions affecting higher education taken primarily by the Scottish Government, Scottish Parliament and Scottish Funding Council. Working closely and constructively with all three organisations is a major focus of our time.
We also work closely with Universities UK on matters that are reserved to Westminster but directly affect universities in Scotland. The UK Research Councils and immigration policy are two key areas that are reserved to Westminster but have a cross-UK impact.
Founded in 1992, Universities Scotland is an autonomous national council of Universities UK. We are financed by the subscription of our member institutions.
Universities Scotland, a national council of Universities UK registered Charity No. 1001127