£58m boost to close grants 'gap'

Extra funding for Scottish institutions will ensure they 'keep up with England'. David Matthews reports

December 22, 2011



Credit: Alamy
Luck of the draw: Glasgow School of Art will get a 36.7 per cent budget increase


Scottish universities will receive a £58 million boost in their teaching grant in 2012-13, making up for a similar-sized fall this year.

The Scottish Funding Council announced this week that total funding for universities would rise from £959.4 million to £1.017 billion after institutions north of the border successfully lobbied for extra funds they say they need to keep pace with England.

The main teaching grant will rise by 10.6 per cent to £608.8 million, while the research grant will grow by 4.7 per cent to £257.5 million.

On average, Scottish universities will see their main teaching and research grants grow by 14 per cent.

The biggest winner was the country's most remote institution, the University of the Highlands and Islands, which will see a 41.1 per cent rise in its main teaching and research grant as a result of its expansion by 1,000 places after it was awarded university status this year.

The Glasgow School of Art will get a 36.7 per cent rise in its grant, while the University of Dundee will be allocated the lowest rise, 10.9 per cent.

The funding settlement is conditional on new "outcome agreements" with the Scottish government, which will track how well students flow from college to university, retention rates, widening access efforts and knowledge transfer to business.

Mark Batho, chief executive of the SFC, described the settlement as a "something-for-something deal". "The universities asked, effectively, for more money to ensure their competitiveness, and the government has said it wants them to do X, Y and Z," he said.

Seamus McDaid, convener of Universities Scotland, said that the institutions "fully realise that an investment of this order in the current climate marks a very significant commitment to universities on behalf of the Scottish government - something that we do not take lightly".

Some 300 extra places will be created in science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects, while funding for students from the rest of the UK has been withdrawn and Scottish universities have been allowed to charge them tuition fees of up to £9,000 a year.

This has freed up money to increase the teaching grant, Universities Scotland said.

Scottish universities have lobbied the devolved government this year to allocate more money to the sector, fearing that a "funding gap" would open up with their English counterparts once the latter were able to charge tuition fees of up to £9,000.

david.matthews@tsleducation.com.

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