Page last updated at 07:38 GMT, Friday, 2 October 2009 08:38 UK

Funding change for universities

The proposed funding changes would benefit older universities

Proposals have been put forward on higher education funding in Scotland which would see the newer universities losing out.

The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) has proposed changing the formula for allocating £700m of teaching funding.

Universities such as Abertay, Napier, Queen Margaret, Glasgow Caledonian and Stirling would lose, while older institutions would gain.

The SFC said it wanted to achieve value for money in its distribution of funds.

The consultation on the proposals is due to last until December.

The SFC wants to change the way it distributes its £700m teaching budget to individual subjects.

From subjects being grouped in 12 bands, the council has created a new structure with just four bands.

Block grant

It predicted the winners would be subjects like maths, traditional science and creative arts.

The SFC said: "At a subject-level, the evidence means that Built Environment, Education and a group that includes Geography and Psychology (Science group C) command a lower price and that Science, Mathematics, Pre-clinical, Creative Arts and Social Sciences command a higher price than under the current system."

Among the losers would be psychology, architecture and teacher training.

Some subjects would see no change, such as medicine and dentistry.

The council also said that institutions would still receive what the SFC described as a "block grant" which university managers could allocate as they wished to different subject areas.

Winners and losers

However, changing the priorities surrounding subject funding is expected to affect the universities themselves with critics saying the newer institutions would be adversely affected.

The SFC itself said of the proposals: "Queen Margaret University Edinburgh, The University of Abertay, Edinburgh Napier University, Glasgow Caledonian University and the University of the West of Scotland experience the biggest negative change."

Professor Bernard King, principal and vice-chancellor of Abertay University said: "We believe the review is fundamentally flawed for three main reasons.

"First, and most seriously, the proposed new funding structure appears to have the unintended consequence of materially damaging the higher education prospects of thousands of Scottish working class youngsters.

"Second, the review is looking only at the funding per student per subject. We believe it is missing an opportunity to review the subject groups themselves and assess whether they are still fit for purpose in terms of their applicability to universities' contribution to the nation's economic, social and cultural wellbeing.

"Finally, this review appears merely to be fiddling with the administration of university funding. We would prefer to see something that adds genuine value to our ability to support the Scottish economy."

The institutions which would gain include Dundee University and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

The formal consultation will end on 4 December 2009.

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