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Taking action in higher education

UCU comments on Scottish spending review

15 November 2007 | last updated: 14 December 2015

UCU Scotland today warned that the government's warm words about a 'smarter Scotland' had to be backed with proper funding. The union is disappointed that yesterday's spending review announcement of funding for higher education only delivered a real terms 2% increase over three years.

Commenting on the spending review, UCU Scotland president, Terry Brotherstone, said: 'The government put a smarter Scotland at the centre of the economic strategy published earlier this week, yet days later has failed to invest in the skills and innovation required to build our economy.

'The Scottish government must recognise that the 2007 spending review is at best just a holding operation for higher education. The rhetoric we have heard from the SNP has been encouraging but the time has now come for a more fundamental enquiry into the needs of our universities and, above all, what Scotland will need from its universities in the medium to long term. All staff and students must be fully involved in reaching a new consensus about how to retain and redefine the international reputation of Scotland's universities.

'Higher education is reliant on the quality of the professionals who deliver and support teaching and research, and paying people properly is a top priority. As universities face up to the challenge of equal pay review in the months ahead, they cannot dodge the need to close the gender pay gap. Investment in new buildings and new projects must be handled carefully and there must not be over-commitment or lax financial management of the sort which can all too easily result in shiny new buildings being paid for by redundancies and ongoing inadequate pay.'

The overall funding for the Scottish Funding Council is only increased by 2.3% in real terms over the three years of funding announcement. Next year there is a small real terms cut in funding followed by real term increases of 1.7% and 1.3%. The estimated total funding increase for higher education in cash terms is about £116m and falls short of the funds requested by universities to allow them to meet the challenge of top-up fees in England and to compete on the world stage. Once capital funding is factored out the increase over 3 years is just 2% in real terms.

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