Responding to the publication of Theresa May’s review of post-18 education and funding (the ‘Augar review’), Universities Scotland is calling on the government and next prime minister to consider fully the potential consequences of the recommendations for universities and students in the devolved nations.
Commenting on the report, Alastair Sim, Director of Universities Scotland, said:
“The Augar review has been about tuition fees in England’s universities but the UK Government’s response to it will have very significant implications for Scotland’s universities. We want to see the UK Government take the time to carefully consider its responsibilities to students and universities across the whole of the UK, as well as those based in England. That’s the key test that matters to us. We want to see a funding system that continues to supports student choice across the whole of the UK, allowing them to study the right course at the right university for them whether that’s in Stirling, Sunderland or Swansea.
“Almost 22,000 students from the rest of the UK currently choose to study in Scotland at undergraduate level. The fees they bring with them, which are pegged at the same maximum level as set in England, are an important part of the funding mix for Scottish universities. The Scottish Government made this income stream an explicit part what they intended to be a sustainable balance of funding sources for Scottish higher education in 2011.
“A change to a maximum fee of £7,500 in England with compensatory top-up funding from the UK Government, as recommended by Augar, would see a significant increase in Barnett allocations to the Scottish Government. That must be passed onto higher education in Scotland for the rest of UK students we teach or the funding situation for Scotland’s universities could start to quickly unravel at a time when the publicly funded elements of it are already under huge pressure.”