Strike action in higher education

Universities vital for Scotland

28 May 2007 | last updated: 14 December 2015

UCU Scotland has called for increased funding to meet the economic needs of Scotland in their submission to the spending review for the new executive.

In a letter to Fiona Hyslop, MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, UCU Scotland President, Alastair Hunter, says: 'One of the main tasks of your new government will be to allocate funding from the Scottish block of the UK spending review. To that end we enclose a submission on the spending review which outlines the importance of higher education for Scotland both economically and socially.  We hope this will help in your deliberations and your arguments in obtaining funding for higher education from the block grant.'

The spending review submission points out that Scottish business spend on research is half that of the UK as whole and a quarter of the average for our competitor nations. Yet Scottish universities punch above their weight in gaining funding from the UK research councils.  The First Minister stated that: 'The health of the Scottish economy underpins all of our priorities in government. A vibrant, dynamic economy is the beating heart of a successful confident nation.' If this vision is to be met then Business must be encouraged to increase spend on research and work with universities to develop research undertaken in Scotland before it is lost to the nation.

Although the number of graduates in the workforce is increasing, Scotland stills lags behind its competitor nations. To ensure we produce the lifelong skills required to build a rounded economy for Scotland the numbers of graduates must be at least maintained – 'If the Executive wishes to increase student numbers it should be a planned, transparent and fully funded process. We recommend that all students should be treated equally whether they are studying part or full time.'

Finally the submission supports the education system in Scotland and warns against making changes that could jeopardise the breadth and depth of the Scottish degree:

Dr Alastair Hunter President of UCU said 'The UCU Scotland Spending Review submission is a large body of evidence for the value of higher education to all aspects of Scottish life.'

'The four-year degree is the norm in Europe and any move to replace it with an anglicised three-year degree just to save money, as proposed in the Howat report, would not only degrade the Scottish Education system but also lessen our standing in Europe and the world. A false economy as we attempt to recruit students and relationships internationally.

'The new Executive needs to invest in higher education if it is to build a new dynamic and prosperous Scotland. In particular, funding to promote real action by HEIs in achieving a system based on retaining and developing their staff.'

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