Future of Higher Education funding - EIS comment

The EIS welcomes the Universities Scotland Paper (Towards a Scottish Solution) which highlights the financial dangers facing Scottish Universities and Higher Education Colleges which themselves threaten the quality and quantity of Higher Education in Scotland.

The EIS gives a guarded welcome to the Universities Scotland wish to have an "expert body to review Scottish university funding” but believes that the experience of the last ‘expert body’ should not be repeated. The last ‘expert group’ to look at university funding is the ‘Tripartite Group’ (consisting of the Scottish Government, SFC and Universities Scotland) which was too narrow in its membership and failed to develop a sustainable financial plan for the sector.

Whilst Universities Scotland is at some pains to highlight that it does not want variable fees within institutions thus avoiding some courses becoming the preserve of rich students, it does not reject the variable fees for different institutions. The EIS believes that variable fees across the institutions will (using Universities Scotland’s logic) simply mean that some institutions will become the preserve of rich kids. Whilst some Higher Education Institutions would seem to welcome this idea, the EIS believes it would hinder social mobility, hamper current efforts to widen access and lead to a less diverse Higher Education system in Scotland.

It is a pity that Universities Scotland has not offered a specific model of ‘graduate contribution’ to lead or shape future discussions. The EIS has sent out a survey to all its HE members to discern their views regarding ‘graduate contributions’ which it will use to inform its response to the forthcoming Scottish Government  Green Paper on University Funding.

- Attributable to David Belsey, EIS National Officer (Further & Higher Education)

Issued by EIS Press Office – Contact Brian Cooper on 0131 225 6244