Scottish websites 'not up to scratch'

March 10, 2000

The Committee of Scottish Higher Education Principals wants Pounds 1 million to improve university websites in a bid to staunch the fall in Scotland's share of the overseas student market.

In a funding plea to the Scottish Executive, Coshep warns that in the past five years, Scotland's market share of overseas students coming to the United Kingdom has dropped by 2 per cent. There is evidence that prospective students are unimpressed by the quality of Scottish institutions' websites.

The government has ambitious plans to promote UK higher education, Coshep says, but it is essential that Scotland's distinctive system is not lost in the promotion of the UK as a whole.

It calls on the Scottish Executive to fund a Pounds 1 million development of websites, coordinated by Scottish Education and Training, the agency funded by the British Council Scotland and Scottish Trade International to promote Scottish education abroad.

Coshep believes the central funding would be "more than recouped" in the subsequent benefits to the Scottish economy when overseas student numbers rise.

It also wants to see a "dramatic increase" in the Scottish Executive's Pounds 11 million "proof of concept" scheme, aimed at funding the gap between scientific discoveries and the prototype stage.

While Pounds 2 million is on offer in the first year, institutions have made bids totalling Pounds 21 million, and Coshep says the sums available for the next two years should be Pounds 30 million annually. It says extra help is needed to get ideas from the laboratory to the market.

Key stakeholders acknowledge that the primary obstacle to commercialising Scottish academic research is the lack of funding at the "proof of concept" stage. Coshep warns that both the public and private sectors must invest more if potential innovations are not to be lost.

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