SFC board merger poses serious risks to the funding of our universities

Ross Greer MSP, Education and Skills spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, today (23 Feb) expressed concern after a report for Scottish Ministers failed to rule out changes to the Scottish Funding Council which could damage universities' funding.

The report, by Professor Lorne Crerar, into a new strategic board covering the SFC and enterprise agencies urges an early decision on whether or not the board is chaired by a Minister.

Ross Greer has previously raised concerns that if the new strategic board is seen as too close to government, universities’ external funding will be put at risk, a concern echoed by the Royal Society of Edinburgh amongst others. 

The Education & Skills committee of the Scottish Parliament noted in a recent report that it was concerned by the government’s intention to pursue this proposal despite being unable to provide evidence to justify the abolition of the SFC’s board. This followed questions from Ross Greer to Cabinet Secretaries Keith Brown and John Swinney.

Mr Greer said:

"Scottish Ministers seem determined to merge the Scottish Funding Council into this new strategic board without considering the impact on our universities' funding, particularly from charitable foundations. Their lack of evidence to justify the change or of what its effects may be are just unacceptable. Students, university staff and education experts have warned that if the government is seen to increase its power over universities, the loss of funding could be severe.

"Whether or not this new board is chaired by a minister or someone independent, we're still looking at serious risks to the funding of our universities. I renew my call on Scottish Ministers to walk back their decision on this new board, consider the impact and provide the evidence before deciding the fate of the SFC."