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Scottish outline budget suggests "flat cash" ahead

Scottish universities can expect almost a “flat cash” funding settlement for the coming academic year, according to outline figures released by the Scottish Funding Council.

A total of £1,066 million will be split between teaching, research and strategic projects and grants for 2014-15 – just £8 million less than the current year’s budget.

However, the SFC emphasised that these were provisional figures and therefore accurate comparisons could not be made with 2013-14. Funding areas not included in the provisional figures, such as medicine and nursing, will be included in the final budget due to be announced in March.

Under the outline figures, £296 million has been allocated for research funding, with £647 million set out for teaching and £115 million for strategic projects and grants. Another £8 million has been transferred to the Student Awards Agency for Scotland to cover the cost of tuition fees for eligible Scottish and EU students.

The research budget includes a slight increase in cash for the Research Excellence Grant and the Research Postgraduate Grant – which the council intends to raise by 0.9 per cent from last year’s final allocations.

The council has also announced £18.5 million will be invested to provide around 3,300 additional places for students from disadvantaged backgrounds and those progressing from college.

Laurence Howells, Interim Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council said: “Anyone setting their sights at further and higher education will benefit from this funding to colleges and universities across Scotland.

“As well as funding for students we are also announcing continuing investment in research and innovation so today represents an investment of over £1.6 billion in better life chances and better prospects for Scotland’s economy.”