Universities Scotland comment on the Scottish Government draft budget for 2019-20

Universities Scotland has responded to today’s draft budget announcement for 2019-20 from the Scottish Government. The settlement means a real terms cut for university funding, relative to 2018-19.

Professor Andrea Nolan, Convener of Universities Scotland, said:

“It’s very difficult to learn that funding for universities is going to drop in real terms by 1.79 per cent. This returns universities to a series of real terms cuts that the Government stopped last year. We understand the Scottish Government is managing a challenging set of public finances. However, we’d hoped last year’s decision was the start of a slow climb back to sustainable funding. That’s clearly not the case.”

Responding to the settlement for university capital budgets, Professor Andrea Nolan said:

“Loans are now the main means of financial support that universities receive from the Scottish Government for their estate and infrastructure. Loans are a helpful addition but cannot be a replacement for core funding and there is, ultimately, a limit to universities’ ability to borrow.”

Further information please contact: Susannah Lane, Head of Public Affairs, Tel: 0131 225 0701 (Direct line) Mob: 07715 992908


  • The Scottish Government draft budget document for 2019-20 can be found here.
  • Table 8.06 on page 115 of the budget document sets out the level 3 detail of the Scottish Funding Council Spending Plans for higher education resource (which covers the two main grants of Teaching and Research) and higher education capital funding.
  • “Financial transactions” as shown in Table 8.06 are a loan that the Scottish Government can make available to universities to spend on capital projects. As such, this money does need to be paid back and is only available to spend on capital projects.
  • Universities Scotland submitted a funding bid for a 2% real terms increase in revenue funding, which covers the two largest grants of teaching and research.