Gordon MacDonald MSP’s attempt to use redundancies at Heriot-Watt University to pursue his divisive nationalist agenda is beneath contempt (FMQs, 09/03/17). He’s quick to play “Project Fear” and blame the job losses on Brexit in a clumsy attempt to drive us off is independence cliff-top. If he’d actually read what Heriot-Watt said he’d find that whilst Brexit is a factor, cuts he voted for in Holyrood are perhaps a bigger issue.
Heriot-Watt, which is actually in his constituency, said: “We have seen year-on-year real-term reductions in the finance we receive from the Scottish Funding Council in the price per funded place. Universities Scotland cite this as being a 13% reduction during the last five years.”
Indeed, last year Mr MacDonald voted for a £30 million cut to university budgets – a brutal action which was described as “deeply worrying” by the University and College Union. Four of Scotland’s biggest universities faced the largest reductions, but there was a 3.3% cut for universities across the board – including Heriot-Watt.
Almost as soon as Mr MacDonald pressed his voting button in Holyrood, Robert Gordon University announced it would be looking to save £4 million by cutting around 100 jobs, and Aberdeen University soon followed.
Universities are being hammered by the double SNP whammy of cuts and strict limits on places. It’s not just the universities that are being cut however. Currently the SNP offers the very poorest students a bursary of just £1875 per year. In comparison, ten years ago Labour in Scotland offered the poorest students a bursary of £2,455 (£3,000 today).
Mr MacDonald needs to stop stoking fear and start arguing that Scotland’s universities and students get a fair deal from the Scottish Government.