'Don't seek cash, use imagination'

November 21, 2003

Scottish education minister Jim Wallace has told universities to make better use of their existing funds rather than looking for more government cash, writes Olga Wojtas.

Universities Scotland called for a £100 million injection to enable higher education to help turn around the economy. It this week organised a conference with the Committee of Chairman of Scottish Higher Education Institutions, where convener Bill Stevely said the sector underpinned any strategy for economic success, but had plummeted down the Scottish Executive's spending priorities list.

"At a time when so much is expected of us and when so much relies on us it seems strange that money has been diverted away from higher education," Professor Stevely said.

In a hard-hitting speech, Mr Wallace, Scotland's deputy first minister and minister for enterprise and lifelong learning, said Scotland invested more in higher education than other parts of the UK.

He said higher education had some of the most creative minds in Scotland.

Universities Scotland, the Association of University Teachers Scotland and the National Union of Students had called for imaginative funding solutions to address "the perceived funding crisis". But they then called for £100 million from the Scottish Executive. "You will forgive me for saying that I don't find that particularly imaginative," Mr Wallace said.

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