William costs St Andrews £175,000

March 29, 2002

St Andrews University has suffered a £175,000 clawback in funding because of the "Wills effect" on student recruitment. The only other Scottish higher education institution to face a clawback, Glasgow Caledonian University, says it is a victim of its own success in recruiting and retaining non-traditional applicants.

St Andrews had an unprecedented 45 per cent increase in home student applications last year following the news that Prince William was to study history of art there. It had hoped that the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council would waive sanctions because of the "exceptional circumstances".

But Shefc has not backed off from its policy of penalising institutions that exceed intake targets by more than 3 per cent. St Andrews was 7 per cent over target and GCU 8 per cent. Shefc is clawing back a sum equivalent to the tuition fees for the excess number of students, £175,000 for St Andrews and £452,000 for GCU.

A St Andrews spokesperson said the university "regretted this outcome", especially as it did its best to operate within the framework set down by Shefc for its target home undergraduate population.

Ian Johnston, principal of GCU, said: "The funding council's rules are quite clear that you do not get fees if you overshoot targets. Unlike St Andrews, we do not have a 'prince factor'. But we have good programmes with good employment prospects and improving completion rates."

* The threat of redundancies in Scottish higher education has been lifted by the latest funding allocations, according to the Association of University Teachers Scotland.

The 4 per cent cash increase for the sector has been welcomed. It translates into an average 5.7 per cent rise for institutions following a reduction in top slicing.

David Bleiman, AUT Scottish official, said: "This should put an end to redundancy scares."

But Strathclyde University has been given £666,000 safety netting following a cut in its research funding. Strathclyde's principal, Andrew Hamnett, said its research standing had improved substantially over the past five years, in absolute terms and in relation to universities across the country. The drop in funding stems from Shefc's decision to give more cash to 5* departments, cutting resources available for 5s and 4s.

* Universities Scotland is urging the Scottish Executive's education department to "reconsider" a reduction in teacher education places, which could leave institutions with shortfalls of hundreds of thousands of pounds.

An executive spokeswoman said the revised intakes followed warnings from local authorities that it would be a "challenge" for them to provide training posts for all eligible students.

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