John Arbuthnott, convener of the Committee of Scottish Higher Education Principals, has condemned the severity of continuing funding cuts north of the border.
Professor Arbuthnott said the block funding settlement, recently announced by Ian Lang, Secretary of State for Scotland, would aggravate the considerable uncertainty surrounding higher education.
"In simple funding terms, the Scottish Office has made it clear that cuts of at least 9 per cent over the next three years will be imposed on institutions and that these are to be on top of the aggregate 25 per cent cut all of us have experienced over the past five years," he said.
But despite these swingeing cuts, Scottish higher education institutions had dramatically increased their productivity in terms of teaching and research and had contributed impressively to the national economy. As businesses in their own right, they had succeeded in significantly increasing the proportion of their funding from non-Governmental sources.
"The question we shall be putting to leaders of business and industry who employ our graduates is 'How many of your organisations and companies could absorb and sustain that level of reduction in core funding without the most serious consequences for your staff and your ability to continue to function effectively?'" he said.
"On student numbers, COSHEP notes further uncertainty in the much lower planning figure for 1995/96 compared with that announced by the Scottish Office a year ago. We want urgently to talk to the funding council about what the figures actually mean."