Review of further and higher education support

Scottish Funding Council to consider its model in light of COVID-19.

Ministers have commissioned work on the future provision and sustainability of colleges and universities in light of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) will review the provision and delivery of teaching and research activity across the college and university sector, as well as how activity will be funded.

A SFC paper published in April showed that universities face operating deficits of between £383 million and £651 million in academic year 2020-21 alone, while the college sector faces significant challenges as a result of loss in income and increased costs.

Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science Richard Lochhead said:

“Our colleges and universities are showing tremendous adaptability and ingenuity in meeting the challenges of COVID-19, yet we know the financial impact could run to hundreds of millions of pounds in lost income. Further and higher education and the research sector must emerge from this crisis even stronger by being at the heart of our economic recovery, delivering on our skills needs and maintaining its world leading reputation.

“I am clear we will need to shift to meet those challenges, so the Scottish Funding Council will look at how its existing models of funding, governance and delivery can exploit new opportunities and continue to support our world class further and higher education systems.”

Scottish Funding Council Chair Mike Cantlay said:

“COVID-19 has created significant challenges for learners, colleges and universities. More broadly, the current crisis will create long-term changes in the Scottish economy and the way we live our lives. We will be considering what this means for the way we fund and support tertiary education and research to continue to deliver the outcomes we need for Scotland and beyond. We look forward to working with partners and stakeholders throughout this process and in this fast-changing environment.”

The review will consider the changes needed to existing funding, operations and accountability frameworks in order to respond effectively to the new challenges and opportunities brought by COVID-19. It will provide advice, where appropriate, to Ministers on relevant changes to policy funding for tertiary education and research. Ministers have asked SFC to provide its initial considerations by August.


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