£75 million boost for Scottish universities

Local MSP, Kenneth Gibson, reports on the £75 million  boost for Scottish universities announced by the Scottish government to help with their recovery after Covid-19.

The COVID-19 crisis has had a huge impact on people, institutions and society.

Scottish university income has been significantly affected by the pandemic, particularly the loss of international student income, cancelled conference bookings and returned accommodation fees.

As such, last month the SNP Government announced a one-off £75 million increase in funding for Scotland’s universities to protect their world-leading research programmes against the financial impact of COVID-19. This will help secure the jobs and training needed to support ongoing and future research, meaning institutions can concentrate fully on planning the long-term future of a sector so vital to the Scottish economy.

The new funding will replace lost income, protect jobs and help universities focus on the high priority research needed to fight the outbreak.

A number of PhD students have had their work interrupted by the closure of laboratories or inability to pursue fieldwork.  This intervention will give universities additional resources to respond, for example, by offering financial support to a student to extend a project once their practical work can recommence.

Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, Richard Lochhead MSP, has written to the UK Government calling for a UK wide investment and support package for Higher Education.

His request includes additional financial support for Scottish universities, to ensure they and their graduates can continue to play a key role in the economic and social recovery from the pandemic.

Recent Scottish Funding Council (SFC) analysis indicated that Scottish universities face a loss of £72 million due to COVID-19 this academic year alone, with a collective operating deficit of between £384 million and £651 million forecast for the next academic year.

Scottish Ministers are working with the SFC and the sector to mitigate problems across a range of university activities, including research, supporting teaching excellence and student well-being.

With this £75 million of additional funding, we are investing now while planning for future sustainability. We need the UK Government to join with Scottish universities and the SNP Government to build a support package that will protect our universities from lasting damage.