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Last Updated: Monday, 26 February 2007, 17:21 GMT
Universities call for extra funds
Graduate handshake
Universities say they want to attract 4,000 more students
Scotland's universities have called for a funding increase of 15% over three years from the Scottish Executive.

They are hoping the additional 168m will help them carry out more research, invest in staff pay and increase student numbers by 4,000.

The 14 universities and seven higher education colleges claim they need 340m in total, half of which they will raise themselves.

They have launched a bid to ensure the executive will pay for the remainder.

The umbrella group - Universities Scotland - made the request in its draft submission to the executive ahead of a spending review.

The paper will also be sent to all candidates standing in May's Scottish Parliament elections, outlining the need for an additional 110m to address "unavoidable pressures" such as staff salaries, pensions and fuel bills.

International development

The universities estimate that increasing the current student population of 200,000 by 4,000 will cost an extra 24m and boosting postgraduate numbers by the same amount will come in at 21m.

International development costs are expected to reach 25m.

"We hope that our public investment can rise by 168m in real terms by the end of the three years," said Universities Scotland convener and Glasgow University principal, Sir Muir Russell.

"We know this is a tight spending round, but we believe this target is affordable."

The universities claim the additional investment they have requested represents 0.5% of the Scottish budget.

I am absolutely committed to a real terms increase in funding for further and higher education for each of the next four years
Jack McConnell
First Minister

In his speech to students and staff at a conference in Glasgow, First Minister Jack McConnell said he also wants to see the number of students increased and agreed in principle to increase funding in real terms, though he did not commit to any figures.

"I am absolutely committed to a real terms increase in funding for further and higher education for each of the next four years, if I am re-elected as first minister of Scotland," he said.

"But I would also say there are hard choices to be made. In order to deliver that real terms increase, there first needs to be a strong political commitment, because that investment will come from other areas."

The SNP said the percentage of school leavers going to university had dropped under Labour, and easing the burden of student debt would be a Nationalist priority.

"We will also reintroduce student grants for students from low-income backgrounds to enable talented young people to study without the fear of accumulating additional debt," said Fiona Hyslop, education spokeswoman.


SEE ALSO
Campus appeal to first minister
09 Feb 07 |  South of Scotland
Universities create 77m alliance
01 Feb 07 |  North East/N Isles
Questions over university funding
06 Oct 06 |  Scotland

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