I'm very concerned over a reported SNP cut in funding for universities. The indicative budget for the sector appears to indicate that the combined impact of the suspension of the Global Excellence Initiative, and the cancelling of further planned increases in teaching and research funding, would leave Scottish universities with £21.5 million less than they had hoped for.
The University of St Andrews plays a hugely important role in the local North East Fife economy, as do the University of Dundee and Abertay University – where many people from North East Fife work – and any cut to funding is very concerning.
Some of the research being carried out at our local universities is world leading, and a recent UK-wide survey found that more than 85% of university research in Scotland was judged to have an outstanding or very significant impact on wider society and the economy. However, it would appear that the SNP has cut £21.5 million from university research budgets, which risks undermining Scotland’s world class higher education sector.
I understand that the heaviest cut could fall on the Global Excellence Fund - an initiative that was designed to boost the world leading output and standing of Scotland’s universities - which would lose its funding of £14 million entirely. This would be a failure to support the excellent work being carried out by scientists and academics, and would also be a bad decision for the local and wider Scottish economy.
As this funding has been held back, rather than cut entirely, the Scottish Government should return this funding to Scotland’s universities. Our local universities play an important economic, social and cultural role in the local area – with world leading research a key element of this - and the SNP need to understand that.
The attached photo was taken at the University of St Andrews' Biomedical Sciences Research Complex.