Universities Scotland respond to the Scottish Government’s budget for 2024/25

Universities Scotland has responded to the Scottish Government’s budget for financial year 2024/25 which was published on Tuesday 19th December.

For higher education, the budget means:

  • cash cuts of 5.9% to university resource budgets (or a cut of £48.5 million) which primarily covers the cost of teaching Scottish domiciled students.*
  • a 4.7% increase to the university capital budget, which covers research, innovation and buildings. This is a cash increase of £16.2 million.
  • Overall, total public funding for universities in FY 2024/25 decreases by 2.8% in cash terms or a drop of £32.3 million.

The 2023/24 baseline resource funding for HE remains the same as published in 2022. However, the Scottish Government had already made £20 million of in-year savings from the HE budget. Based on today’s figures, that means universities will experience a £28.5 million drop in resource funding year-to-year.

Responding to the settlement, Professor Iain Gillespie, Convener of Universities Scotland and Principal of the University of Dundee, said:

“This is a tough budget for higher education, with a 2.7% cash cut overall and close to a 6% cash cut to budgets for teaching. We do note some protection of HE capital in cash terms, which we hope will be directed towards research and innovation as a strategic asset in Scotland’s ability to drive sustainable economic growth. Overall, this outcome means some inescapably hard choices for universities, with the challenge made all the harder by continuing high inflationary pressures on our costs. We will do our best for learners and the vast array of stakeholders in business and civic society, who rely on universities, but the overall settlement makes it more difficult to make our full contribution to the nation’s success. 

 “Universities are facing serious headwinds in international student recruitment, which means the assumed reliance on cross-subsidy from international fees to compensate for cuts to public funding is likely to leave universities exposed on multiple fronts.”


Table A5.07 of the Scottish Government’s budget document contains the main budget lines for higher education. This is available here: scottish-budget-2024-25.pdf (