There will be no dramatic redistribution of Scottish higher education funds in the coming year.
The Scottish Higher Education Funding Council has already implemented its funding changes based on the research assessment exercise, unlike the Higher Education Funding Council for England, and there is no repetition of the substantial 1997-98 changes which ranged from an extra 8.5 per cent for Dundee University to a cut of 6.1 per cent for the Northern College of Education.
The 1998-99 grants range from a 2.4 per cent rise for the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, marking its "specialist institution" status as Scotland's only conservatoire, to a 0.1 per cent cut, for the Scottish College of Textiles. The average cash terms increase for Scotland's 21 universities and colleges is 0.8 per cent.
SHEFC has earmarked Pounds 430 million for teaching and Pounds 108 million for research out of Pounds 574 million. Comparisons with last year are impossible not only because of student fee changes, but because grants formerly designated for estates and equipment are merged with the main teaching and research grants. But funds have been maintained in cash terms, a cut that the council estimates in real terms as 2.8 per cent.
SHEFC has boosted the teaching grant by Pounds 4 million, a rise of 0.8 per cent, in recognition of student funding changes. It has also set aside support funds in case institutions have recruiting problems.
But SHEFC chief executive John Sizer said: "We will also make investments to stimulate innovation and enable strategic change."
This includes more than Pounds 6 million in non-formula funding to promote research development, and Pounds 12 million for strategic change, which aims to boost collaboration, including mergers, but also to preserve the viability of small specialist institutions.