Wednesday, October 28, 2020
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Why should English taxpayers bail out Scottish universities?

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A THIRD of Scotland’s universities and colleges could run out of cash by Christmas without a government bailout.

This is the result of losing 25,000 foreign students because of Covid-19. Labour MSP Daniel Johnson wants the Scottish government to fund the £500million black hole since, he said, ‘this reliance on overseas income was been created by the Scottish government’. Will he reduce his generous salary to help fund this gap which Scottish taxpayers will be forced to fill? 

Recently revealed was the huge – some may say obscene – scale of salaries of Scottish university principals.

The highest-paid was Peter Mathieson, of the University of Edinburgh, who earned £342,000. Last year only 15 of the 42 highest paid principals accepted salary cuts. Mathieson has now taken a 20 per cent salary cut for six months. Some would say ‘too little, too late’ but it is an example that other university principals and MSPs should follow.

A few days after this issue was raised by Johnson, the Scottish government announced it will give universities a one-off funding boost of £75million to help them cope in the wake of Covid-19. Coincidence? 

Education secretary John Swinney insisted that the UK government should also contribute to the deficit at Scottish universities. Since the SNP came to power they have constantly blamed Westminster and complained that Scotland was being ignored. The Scottish parliament demanded devolution and they got it, including control of Scottish universities. Mr Swinney, why should English taxpayers bail out Scottish universities when your Scottish government policy gives free education, not only to those residing in Scotland, but also to EU students? Mr Swinney will not want it to be remembered that many suitably qualified students living in Scotland were denied places at Scottish universities since places were prioritised for fee-paying foreign students.

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Clark Cross
Clark Cross is a retired chartered accountant, finance director and managing director. He lives in Scotland.

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