The data on Scottish Funding Council (SFC) grants to universities are published in a very transparent, accessible way. The basis of their allocation is also explained. It’s easy also to compare the current levels of award with historic ones. Here are some facts that place The Herald’s headline in proper context.
1) Total value of SFC Grants for Teaching, Research and Innovation:
2021-22 = £1,029,057,003
2022-23 = £1,040,952,798
Change: a 1.2% increase.
Specifically on total grants for Research and Innovation:
2020-21 = £289,973,000
2021-22 = £294,376,000
2022-23 = £299,086,000.
Change: up 1.6% on last year
Also, 11 out of 19 institutions received an increase in their Research and Innovation grant.
The University of Aberdeen has indeed had a c. £2 million reduction, down to £21,906,000. This is by far the largest drop of any institution. By contrast, the University of Edinburgh, Scotland’s pre-eminent research-intensive university, has seen an increase of c. £6m. The University of Glasgow has an increase of c. £1.2m.
Specifically on the element of Research and Innovation funding termed the ‘Research Excellence Grant’, the total for the sector has risen by c.£6.5m. Whilst Aberdeen has seen a fall, the University of Edinburgh has had an increase of £6.8m, the University of Glasgow a £2m increase.
What is the the argument here? That the Scottish Government – notwithstanding its restricted budget – should take funding from other areas, from health, or social security, or early years education, or from mitigating Westminster’s unwanted actions? Should it do this in order to ensure that no university loses out even if relatively its level of ‘excellence’ is dropping when compared to peers in Scotland?
‘Threatening Scottish research excellence’? Well over the top! Notwithstanding the great contributions universities make, there has long been a strong whiff of ‘entitlement’ apparent in parts of this sector!
Source: Table 6 and 7 – https://www.sfc.ac.uk/publications-statistics/announcements/2022/SFCAN152022.aspx