UCU comment on Scottish Government response to Scottish Funding Council review of universities

27 October 2021

Commenting on the publication today of the response by Jamie Hepburn, minister for higher education and further education, youth employment and training, to the Scottish Funding Council's review of university and college provision and sustainability, UCU Scotland official Mary Senior said: 'We welcome the Scottish government's commitment to multi-year funding settlements for the university sector. This needs to be matched by fair funding that meets the full costs of delivering university teaching. Failing to properly fund the sector means increasing student-staff ratios, spiralling staff workloads, and all too many university staff on precarious contracts.     

'We note the minister's "interest" in the working environment and culture of postgraduate researchers, but we need meaningful action from employers to address the scourge of casualisation and precarity which affects early careers researchers and tutors, and this is one of the main reasons why UCU is in dispute with employers and balloting its members across the sector right now.'

Ms Senior continued: 'Covid-19 has increased inequality and exclusion, and so it is very welcome to see the Scottish government commit to retaining the role of the Fair Access commissioner, and to reinvigorate our approach to widening access to higher education. Any changes to the current fair access targets need to be based on the same sector-wide approach that led to the 2016 recommendations, and the remit for future work needs to ensure that those recommendations are the basis for more challenging targets.

'We also warmly welcome the work on establishing a Scottish education exchange programme to include both staff and students, and to resecure access to the Erasmus plus programme. Education doesn't observe national boundaries or arbitrary barriers, and the sooner we have reciprocal education exchange arrangements in place the better.'

Last updated: 27 October 2021