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University of West Scotland, Funding Settlement Details

March 4, 2011

Universities Funding Settlement and the implications for UWS


At a recent informal meeting between Principal and the Trade Unions, to update them on the Higher Education funding settlement and the implications for UWS,  it was agreed to create an intranet-based question and answer forum on the Higher Education funding situation.

Responses to the questions raised by the Trade Unions are given on this site at

and the facility has been added for colleagues to submit additional questions anonymously on funding or any related issues or concerns. We will provide replies as quickly as possible.

I hope that colleagues will find this site a useful means of keeping up to date with University developments and decisions in the current economic climate in HE and would welcome any comments or suggestions about any further information you might find useful.

Gill Troup

Gill Troup

Depute Principal

University of the West of Scotland

Paisley Campus

Paisley PA1 2BE

Tel   : 0141 848 3100

Mob: 07515 188364



Q & A Section

The Principal recently met informally with the Trade Unions to update them on the HE funding settlement and the implications for UWS. At the meeting it was agreed to establish a question and answer forum on the Higher Education funding situation on the University intranet using the questions raised by the Trade Unions as a starting point and adding to it as further queries were posted. This site provides answers to questions received to date and provides a facility for colleagues to ask additional questions on funding or any related issues or concerns.



Colleagues will be aware, from other communications that the recent funding settlement from the Scottish Funding Council will lead to UWS seeing a £4.8million reduction in cash terms from our recurrent teaching grant.

There will be an even bigger percentage reduction in relation to capital funding for 2011/2012. The reductions in recurrent funding are heightened by other new costs. These include an increase of 1% in employer’s National Insurance Contributions; an increase of just over 1% in employer’s contributions to the Strathclyde Pension Scheme, plus salary increments and general inflation increases. Overall, unavoidable recurrent cost increases will amount to an estimated £2million. In relation to the capital funding the University will lose £1million, a reduction in last year’s amount which was itself significantly reduced from the previous year’s. This is in a context of the University working hard to improve its capital infrastructure and provide a modern learning environment which is fit for purpose.

Our most recent application figures for the University have increased compared with this time last year by approximately 33%. This is good news but a big challenge in terms of maintaining the balance between part-time and full-time students, articulation with colleges, attracting EU students and not overshooting on student numbers. It is also the case that increases in full-time numbers would be building on last year’s increase in full-time numbers making it even more difficult to manage. There is a real danger of claw back if there is over-recruitment.

Although the University was aware that there would be cuts in funding, the reduction has been greater than anticipated. Fortunately, the University has managed its finances well and we are in a comparatively healthy financial position. So, the University will manage, but not without difficulty. The situation, in 2012/2013, if the reductions are maintained is more worrying and would be very difficult to manage.


·         Response to post-election outcomes

EIS believes that Higher Education should be publicly funded by the Scottish Government. However, after the elections the EIS anticipates that any new Executive will seek to implement specific policy decisions.

We seek the University’s view of the likely outcomes and proposals for responding to, and engaging with, any and all of the above in the post-election outcome.

A) The University Court at its meeting in December affirmed the University’s formal position on the funding of higher education. The University believes that Scotland must ensure sufficient investment of public funding in higher education to secure Scotland’s economic, social and cultural future. However, the University recognises that in the current public sector fiscal environment public investment will need to be supplemented, probably by some form of graduate contribution. Whatever that is, it should be related to ability to pay and not further disadvantage learners who as a consequence of their social, financial or other circumstances are less likely to be able to benefit from University learning.

Through its external activities, UWS is actively engaged in influencing decision-makers in relation to the benefits of higher education generally and policy options in relation to the funding of universities in Scotland. The University hosted one of the Scottish Government’s consultation events on the HE Green Paper in January and has run an all-staff workshop to consult on the response we will submit. The Principal led Universities Scotland’s negotiations with the Scottish Government which has resulted in some protection for universities in the 2011/12 funding settlement. Importantly for UWS, this includes protection of funding earmarked for part-time provision and widening participation. Senior managers are also meeting with representatives of all political parties in Scotland prior to the finalisation of party manifestos before the May Scottish elections. The University has regular engagement with members of the Scottish Cabinet and senior civil servants, as well as local constituency and list MSPs, councillors and senior local government officials.


·         Future commitment of UWS to wider access to HE

We seek a commitment to and outline of the likely future commitment of UWS to wider access to HE.

A) The University Court at its meeting in June 2010 reaffirmed the University’s Strategic Plan 2008-15. The first sentence of the plan, in the Principal’s introduction states “The new University of the West of Scotland aims to be an innovative provider of accessible higher education across the West of Scotland, an inspiring place to study and a rewarding place to work.” and the University will not step back from this critical commitment which is essential in achieving our regional mission. The recent guidance from the Education Secretary of the Scottish Government to the Scottish Funding Council recognises the importance of universities maintaining this commitment, and the challenges in the current funding environment, and, encouragingly, UWS has received increases in its Widening Access and Retention, part-time, and college links funding in recent months.


·         SFC review into teaching funding subject price groups

The SFC began a review into teaching funding subject price groups for higher education institutions in 2009 – i.e. how much the SFC paid an HEI to teach one year of different undergraduate degrees and PGCE. This review, including the SFC’s proposals, is currently on hold. Are there indications of an outcome? Which subject-areas does this university regard as attractive to retain/develop and run? Which current subject-areas does this university regard as unattractive to retain/develop and run? Which units of resource will be cut in UWS over the next one/three/five years?

The review of teaching funding subject prices has been paused by the Scottish Funding Council following considerable discussion with Universities Scotland.  The Funding Council recognises that in the current economic situation, creating further uncertainty or destabilising universities in the short-term when there might be significant additional financial reductions in some universities is not appropriate. There are currently no plans to re-open this work and what happens in future will be determined by the Government following the election in May, informed by responses to the consultation which is currently underway through the Green Paper on funding Higher Education

Internally, the University’s portfolio review process is on-going, currently through module review being undertaken by Subject Development Groups and Schools. Any proposals for changes in programmes have to be considered by the Portfolio Oversight Group which makes recommendations to Senate. Such consideration takes into account a range of factors in determining the success or otherwise of programmes which include attractiveness to students, academic criteria such as progression and completion rates but also, importantly, the relevance of programmes in support of the economic, social, cultural and skills needs of the regions we serve.

In some areas where there are controlled numbers of funded places the University, in common with others, is having to reduce provision. This is currently affecting Education and Nursing, in consultation with the staff affected by the reductions.


·         Removal of caps on numbers for Scottish HEIs

Do you foresee a removal of caps on numbers for Scottish HEIs? Can you outline how you see this would affect European student recruitment?

A) Without a change to the system for student financial support, it is hard to see how it would be affordable for the Scottish Government to lift the current cap on student numbers. Every additional full-time student in the system as it is currently funded does not just cost the taxpayer the fees which are paid to the institutions but also the financial support through grants and loans which students receive.

If the Scottish Government does not lift the cap on funded student numbers then EU recruitment will have to take place within the context of those caps as EU students are counted within our agreed SFC student numbers.

The University is establishing strategic targets that define the spread of our student population – including international (full-fee) and EU numbers.


·         HESA Figures for UWS

UWS HESA Student Record Headcount

Domicile Region



Grand Total

Rest of World




European Union




Rest of UK








Grand Total




UWS HESA Student Record Headcount

Domicile Region



Grand Total

Rest of World




European Union




UK – other








Grand Total




UWS Change 08/09 to 09/10




Grand Total

Rest of World




European Union




UK – other








Grand Total




UWS % Change 08/09 to 09/10




Grand Total

Rest of World




European Union




UK – other








Grand Total




HESA figures show that the number of Scottish students enrolled at Scottish Universities last year rose by 3%. This must be compared to the 17% increase in EU students and 5% increase in non-EU students.  UWS will have its own figures.  Can you supply those figures?


·         ERASMUS, European student recruitment and collaboration with European partners

Can you outline the UWS response to this situation, and how it will affect ERASMUS staff and students, European student recruitment and collaboration with European partners? Is recruitment from Europe being de-prioritised? Can you provide supporting evidence that it is not?

A) UWS currently has three high-level goals:

1. Grow our University and as a result our income from non-Funding Council sources
2. Internationalise in all aspects
3. Improve our services and processes and so increase efficiency

The University approved our new International Strategy in July 2009 and is currently taking forward work to develop the International Strategy Action Plan through the 2011 planning process.

Colleagues in Corporate Marketing have met with most Heads of School and other key contacts to coordinate recruitment activity in the current session and region-specific recruitment and development plans have been agreed

The University, in common with most universities in the UK, has seen a significant increase in non-UK European students who wish to study with us and there is no evidence that this demand is decreasing. The challenge for us all is that this is happening at the same time as an even bigger increase in demand from Scottish students for full-time places. At the moment (February 2011) our UCAS applications for full-time undergraduate programmes are up by 32.6% (12 817 applications at 23 February 2011, compared to 9 740 applications at 22 February 2010) on this time last year (the highest percentage increase in the Scottish sector). This is a huge success for us, but the University has a cap on the number of EU and domestic students it is funded to recruit. If we over-recruit we are fined by the Funding Council. So, the challenge for our University is to ensure the balance is right. The principle behind Erasmus is that incoming student numbers on the programme should be matched by the numbers of local students going to study in other parts of Europe. To help us to balance the numbers, we need to encourage and support our local students to spend time in other European universities. This means academic support, including provision of other European languages, information, advice and guidance and, for many students, financial support. We all have a role to help this to happen so we can continue to welcome staff and students from around the world to our campuses. Recruitment from Europe is not being de-prioritised, however it is taking place in a different context from that of previous years, and we will have to adapt how we operate in the EU market. The investment in recruitment activity across Europe remains stable and our. Our international and EU student numbers remain at a high level.


· Current and planned activities to attract non-EU students

Can you outline current and planned activities to attract non-EU students? Please outline how this approach will be workable in parallel to our commitment to local access? Please also indicate other planned measures to develop other revenue streams to ensure we do not become too reliant on fees paid by non-EU students.

A) There is work going on, being led by academic and support colleagues across all areas of the University to increase our recruitment of non-EU students. This is being taken forward principally through our teaching and research links with partner institutions in countries such as China and India as well as more traditional approaches such as attendance at the international student recruitment fairs and use of agents in certain countries to help us to recruit. However, we are involved in a wide range of other international activities. For example, our School of Health, Nursing and Midwifery continues to develop its support for health care in Malawi. Through academic colleagues in the Faculty of Science and Technology and the Business School, and a former colleague from Student Link, we are developing links with a view to a possible long-term relationship with government services in Rwanda. All schools are developing their portfolios to better meet the needs of international students. The International Action Plan will shortly be completed, and will reflect the areas on which we wish to concentrate in the future.

Increasing non-EU international student recruitment will help to internationalise our University – something which is good for our students and our multicultural understanding. It also helps with funding pressures through fee income. However, the University will not, and should not, try to rely on international recruitment as a remedy and has developed a range of approaches to increasing revenues and decreasing costs to take us forward until the economic pressures ease. The University Court recently approved a paper outlining these approaches which, as can be seen, cover a wide range of initiatives we are currently taking forward, including development of our Business-to-Business activities, developing out part-time and CPD provision, and increasing research and knowledge exchange activity.


·         Good practice document proposed by EIS-ULA

We seek an indication of willingness to formally adopt the good practice document proposed by EIS-ULA and supplied by this branch to management and to HR.

We also seek an indication of management expectations or plans for further redundancies.

A) UWS has agreed through its Joint Consultative Committee that, as part of its ongoing review of policies and procedures, it will consider the proposals contained within the EIS-ULA document when reviewing the Organisational Change Policy which already reflects good practice.

The University aims to avoid compulsory redundancy if at all possible. The current position is that with the exception of departments where restructuring is underway and consultation with colleagues has been undertaken there are no plans for compulsory redundancy. However, the University is not in a position to make an open-ended commitment to no redundancies with the current uncertainty about future funding for universities in Scotland. The University commits to ensuring open and transparent communication with colleagues about the possible impact of the financial situation and, to this end, has set up this site to help to ensure that all staff have access to current information about the University’s plans.


· Shared services for administrative and bureaucratic functions

There is a clear move towards more shared services for administrative and bureaucratic functions, both within UWS and with other HEIs.

There has been an ongoing concern in EIS that support services have been compromised and run down, in turn creating a climate of discontent that could lead to further cuts and potential outsourcing. We ask can you provide reassurances that this is not, and will not be, the case? What guarantees can be offered that cuts in administrative support will not penalise academics by passing additional administrative work onto academic workloads?

A) There is apparent tension between increasing our efficiency and reducing costs whilst protecting administrative jobs and ensuring academic staff do not have to substitute their time to take on administrative roles. It is important to recognise, however, that many aspects of academic administration undertaken by teaching staff are an essential part of any university’s frameworks for protecting academic standards and ensuring enhancement. Many of these processes are, in fact, external requirements on us from bodies such as the Quality Assurance Agency – Subject Review would be such an example. However, the solution to this is through the University ensuring that its systems and processes are as effective and efficient as possible and so do not waste valuable staff time. We also need to ensure that we are doing the right things and not undertaking unnecessary activities. There are several initiatives across the University which aim to improve our efficiency – these include the Lean programme of projects which are being led in different departments by local staff; our review of approaches to academic quality which will report following the ELIR review visit over the next two months; and the review of our catering provision. In addition, the Banner information system development programme will make a significant difference over the next 18 months to administrative tasks such as student enrolment and recording of assessment marks which will benefit students and staff. These reviews are designed to improve the quality of our services and, as a consequence, reduce unnecessary duplication and waste. In the current circumstances the University is unable to make guarantees about no job losses but we will work hard to ensure that alternative options are fully explored with staff with a view to avoiding compulsory redundancy.


·         Class sizes, contact time and redundant posts

EIS seeks reassurances on the following:

a) Staff will not be bullied to take on classes that are too large.
b) Staff will not be bullied to unduly reduce contact time.
c) Work linked with redundant posts that has not ceased will not be redistributed to staff on top of full workloads.
d) Appropriate time and support will be available for training for any new roles or areas of work for staff.
e) The agreed activity planning process will be used to investigate and agree any proposals for new work.

A) UWS maintains its commitment to treat all staff in accordance with the University’s Dignity and Respect Policy. Bullying of any colleague will not be tolerated. In the current economic climate, which causes uncertainty and potential anxiety for employees across publicly funded services, it is even more important for the University when it takes forward necessary changes to appreciate the potentially emotive context of discussions with colleagues and continue to adhere to the principles underpinning the Dignity and Respect Policy and also those of the Organisational Change Policy.

Class size and contact time are important aspects of the student experience at UWS, but are not the only ones which affect student experience and performance. The development of the Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy and related work on service excellence will ensure that the University’s strategic commitment to enhancing the experience of our students is informed by best practice in learning and teaching and student feedback.

The University’s approach to activity planning should ensure that no colleague is asked to take on a workload that would lead to that individual having to work in excess of their contracted hours on an extended and regular basis.

The PDP process is designed to ensure that all colleagues are appropriately supported when taking on new roles and responsibilities.


·         Senior staff’s pay

There needs to be greater transparency for senior staff pay within Scottish HEIs. EIS is also mindful of the perks, expenses, emoluments, performance bonuses and additional pension payments made to some senior staff in some HEIs. We believe that there should be greater transparency and careful use of these, and that all the information should be published by the HEIs.

Will you commit to open and contemporaneous publication of the above information? Furthermore, will CMT commit to forgo or donate to a students’ fund any increase (including bonuses) in UWS income from the past year and for the next five that exceeds the increase in rate of pay (current offer to staff is 0.4%), as a sign of goodwill and commitment to UWS at a time of financial hardship for the university.

A) The pay scales for Professorial and other senior staff are available on the University’s HR website. The salaries of senior University staff, including the Principal’s, are also published in the University’s Annual Accounts. University staff salaries operate on the same basis in relation to cost of living rises and senior staff will receive the same 0.4% pay increase in their February salaries as everyone else across the University. The University introduced a new Recognition and Reward scheme last year which, for the first time, allows all staff, irrespective of grade or role, access to performance-related reward as well as a range of other recognition schemes. The University believes that Professorial staff and senior academic and management staff should have some link in their salaries to performance, as with everyone else in the University. Arrangements for Professorial staff are under development. In 2010/11, following the completion of the annual performance review process, 14 staff received accelerated increments, and 37 received non-consolidated payments, of whom 27 were senior staff. In addition, 6 colleagues have received awards under the local recognition scheme. The University is intending to launch a development campaign to establish a student fund over the next few months and all colleagues, including senior staff, will be encouraged to support that fund either through donations or contribution in kind to fundraising efforts.

Unlike staff on the 51 point scale, members of the Professoriate and the Corporate Management Team do not automatically receive increments to progress through salary scales.

Senior staff at UWS are subject to the same arrangements for expenses as all other staff. They do not receive additional in-service pension payments and have access to the same initiatives, such as car-parking and the cycle to work scheme as all UWS staff.



Of whom


Of whom

£40k- £50k


£80k – £90k



£50k- £60k



£90k – £100k



£60k – £70k



£100k – £110k



£70k – £80k



£110k – £120k



·         UCU Ballot and Potential Industrial Action

* What is the University’s position on the ongoing UCU ballot and potential industrial action

A) The University & College Union (UCU) is in the process of balloting members on a proposal to take industrial action over job protection and pay.

Although UWS has a relatively small number of UCU members, job security issues are a serious concern for us all. Decisions on staffing and workforce change are matters that are discussed with staff representatives through the Joint Consultative Committee and progressed following policies and procedures developed and applied in consultation with our recognised trade unions.

As colleagues are aware that, higher education is facing enormous financial challenges and we will continue to work with our trade union colleagues in seeking to achieve the financial sustainability of UWS. The 2010/11 pay award is considered the maximum affordable in the current financial climate and the settlement has been paid and backdated in spite of the worsening funding environment.

It is our belief that industrial action in this climate will be damaging for students, the University and the sector.

Support The Free Hetherington

February 6, 2011

photos: Sean Anderson

The occupation of the Hetherington Research Club at Glasgow Uni continues to go from strength to strength. The building is now a fully functioning social and educational space, run democratically through open meetings, and with an ever-expanding list of upcoming meetings, film-showings, quiz nights, discussion groups and more!  The building also has a fully-operational kitchen, offering up an always excellent vegan meal each evening, while teas, coffees and snacks are available (for free/donation) all day!

You can find out more on the new occupation blog here, the facebook page here, and twitter here.

A rally is being held tomorrow, Monday 7 February, at 12 noon outside the occupied space, from which a delegation will be sent to present the following demands to senior management:


  • Maintained freedom of access to the building, on the terms of the occupants.
  • The Hetherington Research Club to be returned to democratic control by students and staff, with the return of the block grant. All those who lost their jobs as a result of the closure should be offered their jobs back.
  • Anton Muscatelli should condemn the cuts and student fees and take the average wage of university staff, or resign.
  • No cuts at Glasgow University. We demand no job cuts, no course cuts, no cuts to student services, no cuts to teaching budgets and an end to the voluntary severance scheme.
  • Glasgow University must become a democratic place of lifelong learning for all residents of Glasgow.
  • We demand investment in higher education and wider public services and an end to the Government’s programme of austerity.

Glasgow uni occupied!

February 1, 2011

Glasgow University has gone into occupation once again.

The Hetherington Research Club was closed last year by university management. The former postgrad students’ union was a well loved building that was originally gifted for the use of students. However, despite a strong campaign and finance plan to save it, management have indicated they have no intention of allowing it to be used for students again, and have left us no choice but to occupy the building.

As in last year’s occupation, we are occupying against fees and cuts, and demanding free education. But we also want to see the Hetherington returned to student use.

Please come down and support the occupation, and tell everyone you know! The building is on University Gardens, near to where it meets University Avenue. There will be people here 24 hours from now on.

Student activists join bank protest

January 21, 2011

On Thursday morning members of Glasgow Against Education Cuts were among a group of protesters who occupied RBS offices in Glasgow to protest against the massive bank bonuses that their senior management are set to  pay themselves.

Around 20 people entered the offices, including students, environmental campaigners, pensioners, unemployed people and low paid workers. Once in various people took turns on the megaphone to explain why they were there while we put up banners and placards. The occupation had been planned by the group Citizen’s United, who have already been busy showing the banks what they think of their behaviour with several actions last year.

Banks, including those that have been nationalised with massive payouts of public money, are set to pay out £7 billion in perks to their bosses. Their greed is directly related to the massive cuts to the services that we rely on – our money was what kept them in business.

The protest was an excellent opportunity for students to link up with other groups of people fighting against the cuts and for a better society. More unity in action is clearly the way forward. The next couple of chances will come next week. On Monday it’s the second national day of action against benefit cuts. People will be traveling through from Glasgow to help protest against ATOS Origin, who are a private company that assess benefit claimants to try and force people who are ill or have a disability back into work, no matter even what their own doctor says. The protest is at their Scottish headquarters in Livingston from 10am, we’ll add travel details soon.

Following that on Saturday 29th we’ll be joining up with trade unionists from Defend Glasgow Services to show outrage at the unacceptable cuts to further education colleges. Meet at George Square from 11.30am. There’s also a Defend Glasgow Services public meeting and fundraiser on Thursday 27th in Admiral Bar, on Waterloo Street, where there’ll be a speaker from Glasgow Against Education Cuts.

There’s full reports of what happened today at RBS here, here and here.

Supporting Defend Glasgow Services/Tour of Cuts and Cutters

January 19, 2011

Stow College, just one of the many across the city threatened by the SNP government's cuts

(Facebook event here.)

The next big day of protest around education cuts in Glasgow is planned for January 29th.

Defend Glasgow Services, an anti-cuts campaign formed by Glasgow City Unison and other trade unions, has called a static protest for George Square at 11.30am.

The demo comes in the context of unprecedented cuts to further education being implemented by the Scottish Government. Just before Christmas, in a deliberate effort to bury the news, the Scottish Funding Council published the annual college grant letters for 2011/12. The news is devastating – college budgets are going to be slashed by 10% in a year, with colleges themselves left to decide who will get the sack, what courses will no longer run and what services will go.

This move will mean huge job losses, and a massive impact on students. At a time of record unemployment, especially among young people and school leavers, demand for further education is understandably very high. But in the coming months prospective students can expect to learn that their courses are no longer running.

This comes after it also emerged that students at two thirds of Scottish colleges are struggling to continue because of the lack of vital support funds. Over the last year 65% of colleges simply did not have enough money to provide the bursaries required to allow students to continue in education. The most vulnerable and least well off students depend on these funds for survival, but some colleges have simply stopped paying them out.

The right response to the economic crisis would be to expand further education, keeping lecturers and support staff in work and giving students the opportunity to gain skills. But in fact these plans put the future of many Scottish colleges in doubt. Already last year we saw Dumfries and Galloway College told it would have to face cuts of up to £1 million, for example.

Of course, there’s little chance that college boards will make cuts where they could really be afforded – massive salaries for management, junkets for bosses and hospitality costs. With some college principals earning six figure salaries, there can be absolutely no justification for making workers unemployed and depriving students of an education.

As Glasgow Unison say:

“We are calling for workers and students to stand together in our fight against the Scottish Education Cuts and to defend Glasgow’s Colleges. Unity is strength and together we will defeat these proposals.”

Glasgow Against Education Cuts as a group aims to unite staff and students from all Glasgow’s universities, colleges and schools. Up until now most of our action has been around solidarity with English students facing massive tuition fee increases. But now it’s time to for us all to stand by further education students and staff. This is something that is set to directly affect Scottish students right now. We can’t allow the SNP government to get away with such draconian cuts without any protest.

Following on from the rally, Glasgow Against Education Cuts plans  to take to the streets again. We’re going to go on a ‘Tour of Cuts and Cutters.’ We want to walk a route through the city that will allow us to see some of the vital services that will be lost as a result of the cuts, and then some of the people responsible. That includes both the SNP-run Scottish Government, and the tax dodging corporations that have property all over the city centre (Vodafone, Topshop, Boots etc.) While HM Revenue and Customs allows these multinational thieves to take money out of our pockets, Scottish students are set to be denied an education.

Below is a map of some of the places we could take in along the way. Go here to add your own suggestions.


Also on January 29th there will be a big demo in Manchester, called by the TUC demanding jobs for workers and an end to the cuts. There will be activists and buses going down from Glasgow, we’ll add details as we get them.

The beginning of the end for free education

January 5, 2011

(Following on from our mention of the Scottish Government’s Green Paper on Higher Education funding, we’ve reproduced an article written by GAEC member Liam Turbett last month going into a bit more detail about the proposals. Originally published at

Screwing English, Welsh & Northern Irish students, screwing Scottish students (but after they graduate!), turning over education to big business, slashing spending, or relying on charitable donations – that’s the spectacularly shit choices for the future of our universities and colleges outlined in today’s long-awaited Scottish Government review on higher education funding.

It’s the first steps in undoing what’s gradually become accepted in Scotland over the past decade – that education should be free. In 1999, it was, ironically enough, the Lib Dems who oversaw the abolishing of fees, and then in 2007, it was the SNP who got rid of the graduate endowment, a one-off sum paid after completing studies. It’s put Scotland miles ahead of the rest of the UK in providing access to education for all, and is one of the best achievements of the devolved administration. Today’s announcement now sets the ground for its gradual reverse.

There’s little in the way of surprise in the proposals, coming just one week after the House of Commons vote which will see tuition fees at English universities rocket to between £6-9000 a year from 2012, largely to substitute a dramatic fall in state funding. Given the knock-on impact that the changes in England will have on Scottish funding via the Barnett Formula, the argument being put forward by the Scottish Government, and Scottish unis themselves, is that something is going to have to give.

However, what’s put forward in today’s report is only tentative at this stage, with the SNP to line up their concrete policy in the coming months, prior to May’s Holyrood election. As such, the paper is more a list of possibilities rather than any definite policy proposals, but nonetheless it does point in a direction which has worrying implications for future Scottish students.

While much is being made of the fact it rules out “up-front” tuition fees, this is a virtually meaningless phrase – no one, in England or elsewhere, pays up-front tuition fees. Almost everyone gets a student loan to cover their fees, which is then paid back (with interest) in the decades following graduation. This is why it’s a total myth that a “graduate contribution” is somehow a progressive alternative to fees – they’re the same thing. Yet a graduate tax is exactly what the Scottish review lays out.

In all, there’s six different proposals in the review, in order to “stimulate a debate” over the coming months on the best solution for the future of Higher Education. In reality though, most of them are complementary and in all likelihood we’ll see a mixture of them being implemented in 2012, to coincide with the changes in England. To summarise, the main policy ideas in the paper are:

  • for the state to keep its role as the main source of education funding
  • for the state to remain as a funder of education, but alongside a graduate contribution
  • increasing fees for English, Welsh & Northern Irish students, who currently pay just under £2000 a year, to £6,000
  • increasing income from donations & charity
  • increase investment from businesses
  • “efficiency savings” – a.k.a. cuts

We need to be clear that all of these – with the exception of the first (ie. the status quo) – are regressive measures that seek to bring individual contributions into the fray, negate state funding and add to the overall marketisation of education. The idea that business contributions can replace state funding is particularly dangerous; while there’ll be plenty of money from the likes of BAE Systems for cutting-edge bomb making and Glaxo for profit-oriented medical research, what about every other subject that isn’t worthy of corporate investment? Only last week, staff at Glasgow Uni had to come together to vote down management proposals to allow business members onto the university court.

The SNP will argue that they’re only implementing these measures through necessity, and that unlike the Tories in Westminster, they’re not hellbent on privatising education. But this doesn’t change what they’re trying to enact – we need ‘Scotland’s Champions’ to stand up to the Coalition, not cower and implement the cuts, fees or backdoor privatisation on their behalf. As for making students from the other parts of the UK pay more – in a bid to quell overblown fears about thousands of “fees refugees” pouring over the border seeking cheaper education – it’s divisive and unfair.

We’ve already seen thousands of students on the streets and university, college and school campuses across Scotland – while our ‘representatives’ in NUS Scotland might be happy to settle for a graduate tax, let’s make it clear that we won’t. A huge fight to defend the principle of free education is on our hands, but we’re entering it in good stead, with even today’s announcement made in virtual secrecy – its date made public only yesterday due to the fear of student protests at its unveiling. Ahead of the Scottish election, maximum pressure must be placed on every party to not go down the road of a graduate tax or fees – and after their election, to stick to their fucking promises.

Happy New Year – Co-ordinating meeting and forum, Jan 10th

January 5, 2011

Welcome to 2011. November and December were interesting. Happy New Year.

Either “the year when the Tory-LibDem government finally press the advantage they have created in convincing many people that massive cuts are both necessary and inevitable”.

Or a year where the students and pupils will come to be seen as only the first sign of a massive and considered retaliation to the political project of this government.

Glasgow Against Education Cuts
The End of the Beginning Begins!
Monday 10th January
17:30 – 20:30
Glasgow School of Art, ‘The Vic’ student union,
Renfrew Street.
Facebook event here.
Editable agenda here.
Calendar here.
Key dates for discussion:
11th Jan (Parliamentary vote on EMA)
26th Jan (National Walkout: Save EMA)
29th Jan (National Demo, NCAFC)
26th March (TUC National Demonstration)

The 10th Jan looks like being a big meeting, hopefully as big as the last meeting at the GSA that saw over 150 people discuss how to co-ordinate the March on the 24th through Glasgow City-Centre.

That march linked up educational institutions across the city. Since then we have shown that this is not just about students; the group and the marches has included parents, teachers, workers, pupils. Those involved have been concerned about the futures of their nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, friends and children. We have shown through occupations of University buildings, tax-dodging businesses and the re-taking of civic spaces across the country and in Glasgow that we can be in control if we want to be.

The police, the government and media have over-reacted with violence and libel and a concerted campaign to find and punish ‘leaders’ – often simply those shouting the loudest. Students in Kent kept their protest going through Christmas and New Years. Glasgow University Court rejected proposals to allow more outside interests and ‘business leaders’ to influence academic decisions. The government rolled-back on cancelling Booktrust – but the challenges to our society that are approaching are even larger than these issues.

It is a simple question: who decides how our lives are run?

Scotland is next in line for education cuts – Mike Russell’s green paper has made it clear (by raising the spectre of a £450million funding shortfall) that continued free education for University students is not possible north of the border. A graduate contribution (and ‘philanthropy’; business-minded education) is inevitable. Is there another way? How do we fight for it?

As Len McClusky, leader of Unite said, in an article that has terrified the coalition, and met with dubious ridicule:

Britain’s students have certainly put the trade union movement on the spot. Their mass protests against the tuition fees increase have refreshed the political parts a hundred debates, conferences and resolutions could not reach…

The response of trade unions will now be critical. While it is easy to dismiss “general strike now” rhetoric from the usual quarters, we have to be preparing for battle. It is our responsibility not just to our members but to the wider society that we defend our welfare state and our industrial future against this unprecedented assault….

These are Con-Dem cuts, and this is a capitalist crisis.

A week on: what next?

December 16, 2010

Protesters take on the Vodafone tax dodgers

The last update we brought you on this blog was from inside the occupied space at Glasgow University, as we prepared for a day of protest against the vote to raise tuition fees for English students. A week on, it’s worth looking back on what an extraordinary day last Thursday was.

Firstly, the government proved that it just doesn’t care what students think, or what they and they’re families can afford. They’re absolutely determined to shift the costs of education on to students, as part of their plan to slash public spending and reshape our society in favour of the rich. Despite the massive opposition there is from students and society as a whole, they voted last Thursday to push up the cap on the cost of tuition for students to a shocking £9000.

As we all know, the Lib Dems have particular reason to be ashamed. At the last election they promised to scrap tuition fees, but now are the ones responsible for hiking it up. Some of their MPs, too gutless to vote against the government, decided to abstain instead, thinking this would make them look good. It doesn’t – if the abstainers had had the spine to vote against, then the rise could have been stopped.

But those of us who were out protesting never had too many illusions that the government would listen to students, and are absolutely committed to stepping up the fight for free education in the New Year. Last Thursday we were busy as well, with an incredibly successful protest in the city centre.

Those of us who’d slept on the floor of the Glasgow uni occupation rallied outside in the morning, before marching to town to meet up with others at the Royal Concert Hall steps on Buchanan Street. There we heard speeches from school and university students, holding a successful rally that slowly grew despite the freezing cold weather.

Billionaire tax dodger Philip Green is spending our cash on holidays with Simon Cowell

After that, around 300 of us marched down Buchanan Street, and began our tour of tax dodging companies, such as Vodafone (with shops on Buchanan St., Argyle St. and Sauchiehall St.,) who were notoriously let off a £6 billion unpaid tax bill by the government, and the Arcadia Group, which owns a string of well known high street shops such as Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and Ann Summers. Its owner, billionaire Philip Green, is a top Tory adviser on the cuts – but he himself is hiding his money away in Monaco, cheating his way out of paying a fair share.

Other targets for us included several banks, as they were the ones that started the whole crisis now being used to justify the cuts, as well as an army recruitment shop where we chanted “Money for jobs and education, not for war and occupation.”

The point of all this was to highlight how much the rich are able to flaunt the law and hide their wealth, getting away with breaking the law when it comes to tax. The government’s whole argument for cuts is made ridiculous when you realise how much money they just let the Philip Green’s of this world keep to themselves. If the government won’t do anything about it, we will, and that’s why we shut down the shops – so we could hit the owners where it hurts, in their profits.

Despite the fact that there weren’t as many people there as we would have hoped because of the appalling weather, our protest was wildly successful. We circled the city centre 5 or 6 times, forcing the tax dodging companies to close their stores and lose money. The police repeatedly tried to contain and kettle us, but were completely unprepared for a group of determined students who wanted to take direct action.

The police’s behaviour was the only low point of the day. Two protesters arrested on the day are appealing for any witnesses to come forward and help them counter the police version of events in court – for more details see here, and if you have any information that could help please contact At the end of the march the police were finally successful in kettling a group of protesters in George Square, directly opposite the entrance to the city chambers. They held people here in the freezing cold for over an hour, before only releasing people in small groups and demanding they give their names and details. Their tactics were about political intimidation, pure and simple.

At our follow up meeting we discussed how we felt the day had gone and what our next steps should be. It was the first time we’d met as a group without a pressing need to organise an upcoming protest, and it’s only natural that things will wind down and bit over Christmas and New Year. As a result, we were able to discuss how we intend to use the group and how we will develop it from here. Here’s some points we agreed:

– We’re going to start doing regular Saturday stalls, starting this weekend (Sat 18th). We’ll be at the top of Buchanan St., by the Donald Dewar statue, from 12, handing out info to the public and trying to get more people involved. Some of us will also be meeting up beforehand (11ish) at Caffe Nero just nearby on Sauchiehall St., to talk through what we’re going to say and how to put our case.

There’s also a UK uncut day of action taking place on Saturday meeting in the same area at 10, so hopefully we’ll be able to support that while we’re out and about as well.

– Key to strengthening GAEC in the New Year is going to be increasing participation from staff and from all Glasgow’s educational institutions. So, we’re going to start a process of mapping where every school, college and university is in Glasgow, and actively trying to get in touch with people there. Where there aren’t any pre-existing anti-cuts groups, we’ll help in setting them up or providing a space for people to organise through GAEC. We’re also going to approach education and support trade unions to invite them to come and take part.

Everyone can help in this process – get in touch where you study or what institutions are near where you live, and we can start working out where we have people and how to start making new contacts. Invite every student and staff member you know, and let us know how you get on!

– We’re also going to start getting ourselves in contact with the wider struggle against ALL public sector cuts. That means we’re looking for trade unionists, community groups, and social and campaigning groups, so that we can start a dialogue, work out how we can support each other and how the new student mass movement can add its weight to the overall fight against cuts.

The next meeting, it was agreed would be on Monday January 10th, details to be confirmed.

Glasgow Uni occupied against fees & cuts!

December 8, 2010

The occupied theatre space

At 1pm this afternoon, around 100 students and university staff occupied the G12 Gilmorehill theatre at Glasgow University.

Students from schools, colleges and unis from across the city are now in attendance and preparing to spend the night in the occupied space.

The students have released the following statement:

We, the occupants of Glasgow University, made up of past and present students ofeducational facilities across Glasgow, offer our support and backing to all those resistingthe current government’s ideological attack on our public services and the welfare state.

As a predominantly student led movement we act in solidarity with: other students inoccupation across the country; teaching and administrative staff facing redundancies andfunding cuts; and the next generation of students, who will be hit far harder by these cutsthan ourselves.
We also recognise that the attacks on education are part of a wider attack on the welfarestate. These cuts disproportionately target the most vulnerable members of society andare instigated by a coalition government acting without a democratic mandate. We standin solidarity with workers, the unemployed, pensioners and all those who will be adverselyaffected by our government’s proposals.
We offer our support to all those across Europe facing similar cuts as we recognisethat these problems are not confined solely to Britain. We believe a fairer alternative ispossible.
This is only the beginning. Our demands are as follows:
1. No privatization of our university, or any universities.2. No businessmen on the University Senate.3. Support for students victimized by the police.
4. A statement of active lobbying for completely free education, education from tax,not personal contribution.5. That the Universtiy provides a forum for discussing and fighting the logic of cuts.6. That the University acts on behalf of students and staff, not as their unelectedmanagers.
The Glasgow University Occupation

Follow the occupation on twitter & facebook and come to tomorrow’s city-wide demonstration – 12pm at Buchanan Street!

Walkout against fees and cuts this Thursday

December 6, 2010

This Thursday (December 9th) the UK government is bringing its plans to increase tuition fees to up to £9000 a year to parliament to be voted on.

Across the country students will be protesting this attack on our right to education. In Glasgow, we’ll be organising protests to show that we reject cuts, and that we stand in solidarity with English students facing fee increases – because we know if they get away with it there we’ll be next. We’ll also be demanding that the scrapping of EMA is overturned.

We need YOU to walk out of your school, college or university this Thursday, and join us from 12pm on the Royal Concert Hall steps at the top of Buchanan Street. We want to show the government they can’t get away with stealing our future. If you’re a worker in the city centre come out and join us on your lunch break.

Over the next couple of days we want to try and take leaflets and posters for the protest to as many of Glasgow’s places of education that we can cover. Please download them, print them off and use them. Let us know where’s been done. If you have any time to spare then get in touch and let us know. Invite everyone you know to come and be part of it, spread the word far and wide.

This is the big one. Let’s make sure they know we’re angry.

Leaflet for December 9th

Poster for December 9th

A4 Vodaphone Fact Sheet

A4 Philip Green/Arcadia Fact Sheet