Going for Growth

Our submission to the 2017 Spending Review

Universities are ambitious to grow our contribution. To do this, we need to operate sustainably in respect to our core grants.

In 2018/19 we are asking for these grants to remain flat in real terms. Looking to 2019/20, we would like to see the beginning of a movement towards sustainable and competitive levels of funding, i.e. a 2% real terms increase.

Beyond the unit of teaching resource and REG, we have set out a number of other policy and funding decisions that would support the sector to exploit fully the opportunities available to them. They will delver for higher education and our communities of staff and students. They will also deliver to the Government’s priorities of inclusive growth, investment, innovation and international.

Read our bid for investment.

Our ask of the Scottish Government

Our top twin priorities for the 2017 Spending Review are:

1. The unit of teaching resource available to every Scottish and EU domiciled student

The teaching grant funds the place of every Scottish and EU undergraduate at university, whatever their background. With sufficient investment, it will support access, retention and skills development and entrepreneurship within our student and graduate population. The unit of teaching resource per student is currently funded at c.90% of cost after successive real-terms cuts.

In 2018/19 we look for real terms protection of the amount invested per student. This would cost £10.8 million in 2018/19. This would be the first year in five that the unit of teaching resource has seen a real zero settlement. In 2019/20 we would like to see investment per student increase by inflation, plus 2%. This is estimated to cost £25.7 million.

2. The Research Excellence Grant (REG) and the associated Barnett consequentials to support our full contribution under the Industrial Strategy

Recognising the challenging financial environment, we look to the Scottish Government to ensure that the level of investment in the research excellence grant (REG) and research postgraduate grant holds steady in real terms in FY 2018/19. This would mean an additional £4.6m of investment from the Scottish Government.

We would welcome an increase of 2% on top of real zero in 2019/20 which would cost around £10.4 million based on current GDP deflators. This would start to address sustainability and competitiveness highlighted by the Auditor’s 2016 report, equipping us to succeed for Scotland. Scotland’s universities have improved their research performance but have, in several cases, faced cuts in their REG.

We would like to see the Scottish Government support Scottish research and innovation to have an equal chance in continuing to win new research grants from UKRI. Matching any increase the UK Government decides to make in the Quality Research Grant for universities in England would do this.

Our ambitions

Universities share the Scottish Government’s ambition, set out in the economic strategy, to create a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth.

As Scotland faces numerous challenges over the coming years the continued success of its university sector will e needed to deliver shared strategic goals and most importantly inclusive economic growth.

What we want to achieve by 2020

1. Access. We are committed to the ambitions set out in the Blueprint for Fairness. We have action in hand to reform policy and practice on admissions, bridging programmes and articulation from college to enable wider access to university, and successful completion of degrees, by learners from challenged backgrounds.

2. Skills for a disruptive economy. We want to equip more of our population with the skills and attributes to succeed inn the changing and globalised economy, including closing the gap between the demand for study and the places that we can offer.

3. Transform communities. Through our own interactions with communities, and through our participation in City Deals and other initiatives, we are ambitious to support the creation of inclusive and prosperous towns and cities driving economic growth; cultural vibrancy; and community capacity.

4. Research excellence. We want Scotland to be the leading part of the UK for research excellence, succeeding in levering increasing proportions of research investment into Scotland from sources including UKRI, industry and charities.

5. Business birth rate. We want to grow our contribution to the business birth rate, building on our Making it Happen target if a 25% increase in the number of student start-ups by 2019. We want to deepen our local partnerships with Business Gateway and others to support companies in our communities.

6. Internationalisation and exporting. We are ambitious to contribute to growing Scottish international exports above £30 billion, both through our own export activity and in working with Scottish companies and creating global links.

Next steps

We are confident in the contribution Scotland’s HE sector makes to inclusive growth, innovation, investment and internationalisation. We are proud of our positive impact on Scotland’s economy. As we face major challenges, such as the unpredictability of Brexit, we are committed to delivering our shared strategic goals with the Scottish Government and creating a more successful Scotland.

Download a full summary of our submission to the 2017 Spending Review here.

Key Points:

  • Our submission to the 2017 Spending Review outlines our top two priorities going into the next budget: the core teaching and research grants. We ask for sustainable funding in both to ensure we can continue delivering for our students, our staff and for Scotland.
  • We’re very ambitious to grow the contribution we make to Scotland. Already, we deliver £7.1 billion of gross value added to the economy whilst internationally, we contribute £1.5 billion towards Scotland’s export total. Looking towards 2020, we’re clear that we share the Scottish Government’s ambition to create a more successful country.


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