Scots universities told UK focus is not way forward

July 11, 2003

The principal of the University of Abertay Dundee has urged Scottish institutions to seize the opportunities offered by devolution and stop worrying about a brain drain south.

In a graduation address, Bernard King said Scottish universities should stop trying to measure themselves against other UK institutions and focus on planning higher education tailored to Scotland's needs.

His message followed a warning in a graduation address two weeks ago by Brian Lang, principal of St Andrews University, that Scottish institutions were routinely being asked to reassure prospective staff they would not be disadvantaged by moving north. Dr Lang said Scottish institutions had to pool resources to remain competitive against their wealthier English counterparts.

It is understood that he and the principals of Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow universities were lobbying first minister Jack McConnell on the prospective £210 million shortfall in research funding between them and England's top institutions.

They said Oxford and Cambridge universities, Imperial College London and University College London will have more than £300 million in research cash for the coming year compared with £90 million for Scotland's top four institutions.

• The Association of University Teachers is to urge Scottish MPs to vote against top-up fees south of the border on the grounds that they are off the agenda in Scotland.

David Bleiman, AUT Scottish official, said: "We feel Scottish MPs should think carefully before voting to introduce differential tuition fees in England, a move ruled out in Scotland."

The Scottish National Party's five Westminster MPs are to vote against top-up fees despite traditionally abstaining on issues that affect only England.

"This is going to squeeze spending in Scotland and the funds available for further and higher education and that is why we are against it," a spokesman said.


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