Supporting Universities’ Contribution to Recovery & Transformation

A key player in Scotland's recovery from the pandemic

Scotland’s universities will be crucial to the nation’s recovery and transformation. As we look beyond the immediate Covid emergency, the sector will make a full contribution to building an inclusive, green and prosperous recovery.

However, as the SFC Review emphasises, it is crucial that the Scottish Government now sustains and grows its support for the university sector so that we can co-create the nation’s recovery and transformation.

In the 2022/23 Scottish Budget, we are seeking the following elements of support to maximise our contribution:

Settlement: Universities are asking for a 3-year budget.
Undergraduates: meet the aspirations of a widening community of learners.
Places: improve universities’ infrastructure and our contribution to our communities.
Pivot: extend universities’ contribution to the transformation of businesses and public services.
Opportunities: for upskilling and reskilling for the existing workforce.
Research: Invest in research for renewal and transformation.
Talent: Attract talent and investment to Scotland.

An opportunity to address severe pressures

Scotland’s universities can be central to our nation’s success as we rebuild. However, universities face acute financial pressure that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. There is a real risk that our contribution will be constrained unless the Scottish Government invests appropriately in universities.

We see the 2022/23 Budget as an opportunity to address these challenges. These include:

  • The 13% erosion of teaching funding since 2014/15. While students’ needs have increased, funding per student has been cut by £869 per student in real terms since 2014/15.
  • The Scottish Funding Council estimate that research is carried out at an annual loss to universities of £328m.
  • Over £800m of investment is needed to bring the university estate into fit-for-purpose condition, but universities only receive £17m per year for estates maintenance.

Universities’ aspire to be a strong partner in the recovery and that commitment to helping Scotland rebuild is unconditional. However, how far we can deliver on that commitment depends on decisions in the Budget to address these challenges.

Key Points:

  • The 2022/23 Budget is an opportunity for the Scottish Government to recognise the vital role of universities in Scotland’s recovery from the pandemic.
  • The sector faces severe financial challenges which, if unaddressed in the Budget, will constrain our contribution to the nation’s success.
  • Funding per full-time undergraduate student has fallen by 13% since 2014/15 – a real-terms cut of £869 per student.
  • The erosion of public funding for research has corresponded with a reduced success rate of Scottish universities in levering in competitively won resources from UK sources.

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