NUS Scotland President, Ellie Gomersall, at the Scottish Parliament. Credit: Ellie Gomersall via Instagram

NUS Scotland criticise Scottish Government for higher education cuts

By Odhran Gallagher

A new report for National Union of Students (NUS) Scotland has accused the Scottish Government of contributing to a “broken” higher education system.

The NUS Scotland has released a report entitled ‘Broke Students Broken System’, the first in a series of three which intend to “campaign to fix, imagine and build better education in Scotland.” The report details the history of higher education policy from the devolved Scottish Parliament over the past 25 years and accuses the current government in Holyrood of “letting students down” with a “dysfunctional tertiary system, in which decision-making is influenced primarily by market forces rather than student experience, wellbeing, or outcomes”.

Despite praising devolution in Scotland and the campaigning of the student movement for allowing “significant progress” to be made “symbolised – for example, by the Scottish Parliament’s decision to scrap tuition fees on the first undergraduate degree for Scottish-domiciled students.”

However, the report also criticised the current higher education system for not treating all students equally, arguing that government underfunding has led Universities to rely on fee-paying international students. The report also discusses areas such as student loans and the cost of housing which impact student’s ability to learn. 

This news comes after reports of Universities facing large constraints in their budgets, with members of the Russell Group warning of a funding squeeze, and the Vice Chancellor of Cardiff University declaring higher education funding to be “broken”. Recent months have also seen the University of Aberdeen pursue plans to axe single-honours language degrees in a move which the University’s senior management claim is being made in response to a drop in income caused by a plateau in international admissions. 

President of NUS Scotland, Ellie Gommersall, said: “Students in Scotland have long been struggling under the pressure of trying to learn in an education system which has been underfunded, undervalued and in desperate need of a different approach. 

“Education is our best route to tackling poverty and inequality, but the focus needs to shift on creating a system that benefits people, not profit. There is a lack of ambition to make this happen from those in Holyrood, so the student movement is determined to lead the way – and this report is just the beginning. 

“The current system prioritises revenue over student wellbeing and erodes the concept of education as a public good. The student housing crisis is deepening, the cost of public transport is still unaffordable, the Scottish Government is slashing funding for universities and colleges – and all of this has a growing impact on our mental health. Those in power must read this report and act – we need profound change and now.”


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