SCOTTISH higher education faces a 2.75 per cent cut in real terms for next session under Scottish Office plans. This compares to a real terms cut of almost 6 per cent under the Tories' public expenditure plans.
But the Association of University Teachers Scotland says it is "dismayed" by the settlement, which it predicts will lead to the loss of 700 higher education jobs, half of them academic.
Higher education funding will rise by Pounds 17 million next year, from a planned Pounds 653 million to Pounds 670 million. The Scottish Higher Education Funding Council said calculations were complicated by the difference between the financial and academic years, but it estimated that it would allocate about Pounds 570 million for the next academic year, compared with Pounds 550 million this session.
John Sizer, SHEFC's chief executive, said: "The secretary of state for Scotland has demonstrated the importance he attaches to Scottish higher education, in the context of a difficult public spending round, by providing a welcome element of relief from the funding reductions for 1998/99 planned last year."
But the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals said it was disappointed that the planned cuts were still substantially above the annual 1 per cent recommended by the Dearing report on higher education.
Ronald Crawford, secretary of the Committee of Scottish Higher Education Principals, said: "When we measure it against the whole raft of new programmes and initiatives that the higher education sector will be required to take on board in the post-Dearing era, the sums don't add up."
The Association of Scottish Colleges has questioned the Scottish Office announcement of Pounds 350 million for further education, warning that this assumes that colleges collect 100 per cent of tuition fees worth Pounds 63.4 million. Bob Kay, ASC chair, said: "The reality is actually a cash drop of Pounds 2.1 million from this year's settlement - a cut in real terms of 3 per cent."