Our Values & Our Value Added (2013)

Scotland’s universities have a shared set of values that underpin the way they work and the contribution they make to Scotland. That contribution is significant. It reaches into Scotland’s economy, society, culture and its place in the world. Whilst our values remain constant their delivery evolves to reflect a continually changing environment. Universities need politicians and policy makers to create and sustain the right funding and policy environment to support these values so that universities can continue to value they add to Scotland as a whole.

There are five broad values that are central to higher education institutions in Scotland. They each require policy and funding support to be delivered to their full potential. They are:

1. Learning for Life

This means students and graduates with a wide set of attributes as well as the capacity to learn and re-learn to meet the unpredictable opportunities that life offers. Learning informed by research. Developing a culture of enterprise and entrepreneurship within our universities. Flexible provision to meet the needs of part-time and mature students. Postgraduate and continuing professional development opportunities to help career advancement.

2. Widening Access

A strong belief in creating opportunities for all with the potential to benefit. Contextual admissions to help level the playing field. An evidence-based approach to what works in widening access. Further development of and clear signposting of opportunities to progress from college to university with full credit.

We need indicators of underrepresentation that reflect the true breadth of underrepresentation and allow universities to genuinely widen their access. We need a recognition of the importance of lifelong learning and second chances for those who did not enjoy education first time around. We need teaching to be funded at a level that support outreach and retention work and that the availability of places that manages widening access without the displacement of other talented students.

3. Research and knowledge exchange

The development of research that puts Scotland at the forefront of discovery in terms of ‘blue-sky’ thinking and research which has an outstanding impact for the private, public and third sectors. Collaboration where this drives excellence and improves efficiency. A focus on working with business through Innovation Centres, the increased accessibility of intellectual property and alignment with key sectors of the economy where appropriate.

We need investment in a world-class research infrastructure. We need access to research funds at a Scottish, UK, EU and international level. We need support for universities’ knowledge exchange as this has the capacity to grow the economy but does not deliver a return to the HE sector.

4. Scotland and the World

We can offer world-class teaching and research that maintains Scotland’s competitive global position. We will attract high-skilled talent to Scotland. We will contribute to a strong and positive place for Scotland in the world through a network of global alumni. We will actively promote Scotland to the world.

We need a recognition that the environment that universities work in is an international one and a commitment to work towards more competitive levels of investment in higher education as a proportion of GDP.

5. Diversity

Whilst there are shared values amongst all 19 higher education institutions there is also great diversity. This is a strength for Scotland. We will work collaboratively where possible. We will take a coordinated approach to efficiencies and effectiveness.

We ask for an understanding that there is more than one shape, size and form of delivery when it comes to a higher education institution. We ask for respect for university autonomy in an understanding that universities themselves should determine their own missions and strategies.

Key Points:

  • Scottish higher education contributes £6.7 billion of gross value added every year.
  • Universities employ over 38,000 people directly and their economic impact supports over 140,000 jobs in the Scottish economy.
  • Universities create £1.3 billion of export earnings.
  • Universities are widening access with an additional 1,700 underrepresented and articulating students entering university since 2012/13.
  • Universities need politicians to create the policy and funding environment to support their activity.


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