Scottish Labour analysis, based on figures provided by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe), shows that the SNP has not yet restored years of underinvestment to Scotland’s universities.

Cumulatively, cuts to Higher Education Resource funding total over £700 million worth of lost investment since 2010-11.

The Higher Education Capital budget has also reduced by almost 60% over the same period.

Audit Scotland highlighted last year that government funding for universities has decreased at a faster rate than the Scottish Government’s own budget, and Universities Scotland subsequently said that this suggests university funding has been deprioritised.

Universities Scotland have also since highlighted that every Scottish domiciled student at university in 2019/20 has almost £700 less government funding invested in their education in real terms than was the case before Nicola Sturgeon came to power.

Following the Scottish Government’s 2020-21 budget announcement last week, Professor Andrea Nolan, Convener of Universities Scotland said: “The reality is that universities have no more money, in real terms, to spend on students and staff than they had last year…what they need now is for this to be a turning point, with significant new investment to follow, so that universities get to a sustainable funding position and can fully support Scotland’s success.”

Scottish Labour said that the Scottish Government needs to urgently reprioritise and reinvest in our universities and the students that attend them.

Local Dumbarton Constituency MSP Jackie Baillie said:

“Investing in education is investing in our people and our economy, it should be the top priority for any government, and Nicola Sturgeon promised it would be hers.

Yet under the SNP’s stewardship, Scotland’s universities have been deprioritised, which has led to a lack of investment totalling over £700 million in real terms since 2010-11.

As Universities Scotland have said, what the sector needs is “significant new investment so that universities get to a sustainable funding position.

Unfortunately, the budget statement from the SNP, published last Thursday, shows no sign that they have decided to reprioritise our universities.

That’s bad for students in Dumbarton, Vale of Leven and Helensburgh & Lomond and for the future of the Scottish economy.

Scottish Labour would reprioritise and reinvest in our universities and the students from our area that attend them.”



Scottish Labour analysis of figures provided by SPICe:

HE Resource
Year Draft Budget/Budget Allocations £m (2019-20 prices) Cost of failing to protect £m
2010-11 1161.3 0
2011-12 1068.3 -93
2012-13 1132.6 -28.7
2013-14 1154.9 -6.4
2014-15 1160.1 -1.2
2015-16 1151.9 -9.4
2016-17 1087.9 -73.4
2017-18 1055.5 -105.8
2018-19 1045.4 -115.9
2019-20 1025.2 -136.1
2020-21 1025.3 -136
Total -705.9
HE Capital
Year Draft Budget/Budget Allocations £m (2019-20 prices)
2010-11 97.4
2020-21 40.5
Difference £m -56.9
Difference % -58.4

Sources: (HMT Treasury) deflators Jan 2020; Draft budget/Budgets for relevant years. 

This is not the total spend on HE.  Significant in year transfers not shown (e.g. from Health Directorate). 

The Scottish Government Budget sets out the total funding commitment to universities below. Scottish Government and Scottish Funding Council (SFC) officials have indicated to Universities Scotland that the re-categorisation has no implication for the ability of the SFC to deploy funding to existing funding streams as is merely a change in accounting practice.

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