Cash squeeze on teacher training

15th March 1996 at 00:00
Teacher education institutions again come off worst in next year's financial allocations from the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council. The grant letters issued yesterday (Thursday) show that St Andrew's College of Education suffers the biggest cut of 4.6 per cent compared with last year.

The reduction for Moray House Institute is 2.6 per cent and for Northern College 2.3 per cent.

Sir John Shaw, the council's chairman, said a further round of talks would probably have to take place with teacher education institutions because plans agreed last year would "no longer stack up".

In future the council would seek talks with the Scottish Office Education and Industry Department before the annual announcement of student teacher numbers.

The other institution which has fared particularly badly is the Scottish College of Textiles, with a 0.4 per cent reduction in funds. This is because of underenrolment of students, one of the factors taken into account by the council in calculating grant to all 21 universities and colleges.

Overall the council is allocating pound;500 million to support teaching and research. This represents an overall reduction in real terms of 6 per cent. John Sizer, the council's chief executive, says that "positive action" has been taken to minimise the impact on core teaching and research in "an extremely tight financial allocation".

This has been done by reducing the amount available for capital projects, which the council hoped would largely be funded through the private finance initiative and other sources of non-Government money.

The amount of money retained by the council for projects across the higher-education sector has also been severely trimmed, from pound;23m to pound;7m.

In cash terms, the overall reduction for institutions next year is 0.2 per cent. For teaching the pound;353m available amounts to a reduction by 3 per cent and no extra student places will be funded. This is in line with the Government's expenditure plans which assume no growth in student numbers.

For research at pound;102m there is a standstill in cash terms, which is a cut of 2.75 per cent in real terms, whereas last year there was a reduction of only 1 per cent in real terms. The 1992 research assessment exercise still forms the basis for funding decisions. By next year the results of the new research selectivity exercise will be available.

For most universities there is little overall percentage change in the amount of money being made available. Only seven of the 21 institutions register an increase, in no case more than 0.9 per cent.

Professor Sizer said: "We recognise that universities and colleges will face difficult decisions in coping with continued reductions in funding on this scale."

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