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“Save our Scottish Unis” Launched Following Further Funding Cuts by Scottish Government

Updated: Mar 9

In February 2024, the campaign “Save our Scottish Universities” was announced in response to the Scottish government’s announcement of over £100M in further cuts to the funding of colleges and universities. 

The St Andrews Students’ Association has assisted with the formation of the group and is now working closely alongside other student unions across the United Kingdom, says a representative of the campaign. 

“Save our Scottish Universities” has published information regarding the crisis on their Instagram, which aims to inform students of the important facts and data regarding the situation. 

This initiative stemmed from conversations regarding the need for campaign groups to focus their efforts on wider issues and causes that lead to concerns on campuses. 

Projections concerning international student enrollment numbers have been lower than expected across the UK which have, until now, covered the budget cuts towards university funding. Moreover, they shed light on the fact that many universities rely on fees paid by international students — usually around two or three times more than UK or Scottish students. 

In Scotland, international student fees typically make up around 39 per cent of the universities’ income from tuition. In St Andrews specifically, the increase of international students and fees has been a large topic of concern and conversation, with around 72 per cent of tuition fees coming from the undergraduate international student body. 

With the Scottish government’s funding cuts and the impacts of inflation globally, there is potential for fewer Scottish and UK students to be accepted to universities. Exploitation of international students’ tuition fees and acceptance rates is continuing and likely to grow to supplement these further cuts. 

Specifically regarding the University of St Andrews, the campaign is concerned with the international student projections that are lower than normal, which will inevitably decrease the University’s budget. In the 2021-2022 academic year, the University of St Andrews lost £24 million by supporting UK students according to the campaign, becoming “a financial burden to universities.”

“Universities in Scotland are in crisis. But they don’t need to be.”

The student-led movement proposes solutions to this problem, however, and claims that “the crisis isn't inevitable.” Fully funding universities for the tuition of home students, reversing the marketisation of universities, and growing student accommodation in tenancy legislation are three suggestions the campaign argues the government should make. 

“Free tuition for students in Scotland is non-negotiable.”

The movement's message to the Scottish government is clear — they demand an education that is “free, funded, and fair” for all. St Andrews’ reliance on international fees to cover costs and funding cuts has propagated an unfair and exploitative situation.

Illustration by Calum Mayor

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