Exhaustion with new initiatives in Scottish higher education has led to a slight easing of a tough funding round for the coming session.
The Scottish Higher Education Funding Council has set out the broad principles which will govern its institutional funding allocations in March. And while this year it top-sliced around Pounds 23 million for special initiatives, it intends to reduce top-slicing to Pounds 7 million in 1996/97.
John Sizer, SHEFC's chief executive, said: "The pressure from principals has been to distribute more and more money to institutions and we sense a bit of initiative fatigue." But SHEFC has itself suffered a Pounds 7 million cut, to Pounds 535 million, in the sum forecast last year, and the protection it has been able to give research and equipment funding is not substantial.
Both areas are facing a real cut of 2.75 per cent, while teaching will suffer a 3 per cent cut in real terms in most subjects. SHEFC has decided that there will be no extra funded student places, apart from the 5 per cent increase which goes along with an excellent teaching quality rating.
Teaching and research will also gain at the expense of capital funding. For the first time, SHEFC's Government grant has come as a single stream rather than divided into recurrent and capital funding, and SHEFC says it is not planning any new capital projects, although there will be a slight increase in funding for minor works.
David Bleiman, assistant general secretary of the Association of University Teachers, said: "We are seeing one of the first consequences of the disastrous cuts announced by Michael Forsyth, Secretary of State for Scotland, in December."