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Scottish universities hit by research funding cuts

2 April 2009

A lack of additional funding for research has led to some Scottish universities suffering significant cuts in funding, said UCU today.

Responding to the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) institutional allocations for 2008/09, the union said the government had failed to properly reward high-quality research in Scotland and said the funding council needed to urgently consult on changes in funding formula.

Two Scottish universities, Strathclyde University and Stirling University, suffered cuts in funding due to the changes in research funding following the research assessment exercise (RAE) results published in December. Another two institutions will suffer real terms cuts, assuming the 1.5% Treasury inflation figure is correct for 2009/10. Whereas Aberdeen University received an increase of 7% and Edinburgh University a 5% increase in cash terms as shown in the attached table.

The RAE showed an overall increase in research quality in Scottish universities that UCU has calculated would cost around £50 million to fully fund. However, while after the last RAE in 2002 further funds were allocated to institutions to reward them, this time the research quality grant has only increased by 5% (£10 million) to £211 million; an estimated shortfall of £40 million.

Terry Brotherstone President of UCU Scotland said: 'Scotland's universities have not been rewarded for their efforts in producing excellent research. The Government needs to find additional funding to ensure that such vital research is adequately funded and our universities do not fall behind.

'It is all too typical that massive changes in the research funding formula that have resulted in large gains and huge losses at some institutions were implemented without proper consultation with the sector. We call on the SFC to meet its legislative requirement to consult on changes in its funding before implementing further initiatives. Now, more than ever, we need a broader public debate both about the needs of Scotland's Universities and their role and contribution in Scottish life.'

The grant letters from the SFC have implemented the new Horizon and General funds arising from the Taskforce report but most of the original grants have simply been allocated to one of these headings. Hence there is little change in most of the funding streams from 2008/09 apart from the presentation. However, the allocation of funding elements to these categories has been announced without the required consultation. Indeed funding from the Horizon fund was announced earlier this year even though it didn't yet exist.

Last updated: 11 December 2015