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Lifelong learning's 'persuasive' case for extra cash

The final phase of the Scottish Executive's higher education review has made "a very considered and persuasive case for investment in Scottish higher education", Jim Wallace, Lifelong Learning Minister, said last week.

But speaking at the launch of the review, Mr Wallace made it clear that he would look at the case for additional investment in lifelong learning in all its forms - including further education.

Mr Wallace said that he and the First Minister had taken the unusual step of committing themselves to providing extra resources in advance of the Executive's spending review, which is due to be unveiled in September.

Jack McConnell, the First Minister, repeated this undertaking in the Scottish Parliament last week but showed the first public signs of irritation with the university case - as disclosed in The TES Scotland on February 5. "We will consider the different priorities of all the many organisations that make submissions to us for funding, not just Universities Scotland," Mr McConnell declared.

Universities Scotland has been pressing ministers to acknowledge that universities need an extra pound;100 million to compensate for the additional tuition income English universities will receive from top-up fees after 2006 - although it is understood the figure has now been revised to pound;150 million.

In addition, the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council calculates that the repair bill for crumbling campuses is pound;430 million.

The HE review says that it is difficult at this stage to quantify the knock-on effect of top-up fees . But it does urge ministers to prepare for a potential influx of "fee refugees" from England.

Mr Wallace pledged to resolve some of the "cross border issues" sooner rather than later, without waiting until the spending review.

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