NUS Scotland issues warning over “inadequate funding” for colleges and universities

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Further education funding for 22/23 is set to lose £23.9m due to inflation and a five per cent reduction in funding for universities in real-terms

NUS Scotland President Matt Crilly wrote to MSP Jamie Hepburn on Thursday January 27, expressing concerns regarding the effects of the Scottish Budget proposals on students.

In the letter, Crilly outlines the impact that these cuts will have on students in real terms:
“As you know, NUS Scotland has consistently called on the Scottish Government to fully fund the education of every student place in Scotland.

Current funding is inadequate and jeopardises the progress made particularly to widening access… However, more generally I am also concerned that the draft Scottish budget does nothing to finance the commitments made within this year’s Programme for Government which was published only a few months ago.

This included starting work to introduce a range of substantial reforms to student support and a commitment that the total student support package will reach the equivalent of the Living Wage over the next three years.

There is no evidence that this budget will resource your commitment to increase the student support package in line with the cost of living and that the total package of support will be extended to include the summer months where students are most at risk of poverty.

Meanwhile the cost of living is rising, and our recent research found that student rent in Scotland has risen by 34 per cent in the last three years at a faster rate than any other part of the UK.

Data this week from Higher Education Student Statistics has illustrated that more students than ever before enrolling at Scottish universities, with an overall increase of 8.6 per cent in comparison to last years statistics.”

Funding cuts at this time of record enrolment “fails to provide additional resources to these students and delivers a real-terms cut to further and higher education,” say NUS Scotland.

In a statement on NUS Scotland’s website, Crilly said:

“This budget is a bad deal for students and threatens to erode the progress made towards making education accessible for all. While it is welcome that more students than ever are entering education from the most deprived areas in Scotland, it is never enough to simply get students in the door.

Students need support once they enter university or college, to ensure they can stay, thrive and complete their studies. However, we have been living with the Scottish Government delivering real-terms cuts to our education for years, which threaten to jeopardise progress being made. This is yet another blow for students.

It should be the priority of this Government to invest in the futures of the students and young people who have sacrificed so much in recent years.”

NUS President Matt Crilly. Image Credit: NUS Scotland

Bosses at Colleges Scotland (CS) have also raised concerns with budget proposals, saying that larger class sizes and frozen recruitment were among “noticeable changes” in the pipeline unless the draft Budget is amended.
Like NUS Scotland, they have also levelled a warning to the government, telling Finance Secretary Kate Forbes that current budget plans would result in a £23.9m hit to further education (FE) institutions due to inflation, with an additional £28m removed because of the loss of Covid-19 funding received previously.

In a time where universities and colleges across Scotland are recovering from the devastating impact of the pandemic, these cuts illustrate that the government may not fully recognise the crucial role that further education institutes play in economic recovery, nor the needs of the student required to not only attend university, but to thrive.

Featured Image Credit: NUS Connect

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