Scots delight in record rise

March 24, 2006

Academics north of the border this week heard that there would be inflation-beating increases in funding for teaching and research in all 20 Scottish higher education institutions.

The Scottish Funding Council's £1 billion budget for 2006-07 gives institutions an average 7.2 per cent increase in teaching and research money.

By comparison, English higher education saw its total resource grow by 5.8 per cent.

David Caldwell, director of Universities Scotland, said: "The main message comes over loud and clear that, as a result of the last spending review, there is a big increase in resources for next year. But the other clear message is that the Executive is looking for added value, and the sector is very committed to delivering that."

A priority for the funding council is to support research competitiveness, with grants totalling £244 million, a real-terms rise of more than £40 million. The big winners this year are Dundee University, which has an overall increase of 11.3 per cent, and Edinburgh University, which has a rise of 9.1 per cent.

The funding council earmarked £7 million to support research commissioned by charities, and the figure will double in 2007-08.

All Scottish higher education institutions are expected to carry out research, and the average increase is more than 13 per cent. The highest rise went to Dundee, up nearly per cent, while the lowest was the 4.6 per cent allocated to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

Scotland's research pooling, which is building critical mass in disciplines such as physics and chemistry by creating alliances between institutions, is being boosted through the SFC's strategic research development grant.

The grant, which supports projects that meet national strategic priorities, will more than double from £10 million this year to £23 million.

Mr Caldwell said: "Scotland in general has performed slightly better in research than the rest of the UK. The Higher Education Funding Council for England has put extra money into research this year and the SFC has slightly bettered that, which enables Scottish universities to maintain their very strong performance."

The knowledge transfer grant, to improve the exploitation of research for the benefit of the economy, has risen by £3 million.

The SFC hopes to ensure that Scotland remains an attractive place to work and learn by giving extra funds to improve campuses.

John McClelland, chair of the SFC, said: "We are allocating £45 million for teaching capital projects to help institutions refresh their physical infrastructure and modernise their estates. This will rise to £75 million for 2007-08."

The SFC's total teaching funds have risen to £634 million, including earmarked grants not announced this week. There is a 4 per cent real-terms increase to the unit of resource to help support new pay structures. Robert Gordon University secured the biggest increase for teaching, with 6.4 per cent, and Bell College had the lowest increase at 3.9 per cent.

But there is also a significant increase in grants for social inclusion, with the widening access premium rising by 6.4 per cent to £5.7 million, the disabled students' premium by 26.8 per cent to £2.3 million, and the part-time incentive premium by 7 per cent to £8 million.

David Wann, the SFC's deputy chief executive, said: "These record levels of funding demonstrate the high priority that Scottish ministers have given to higher education and research."

 

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olga.wojtas@thes.co.uk </a>  

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