Unis demand for action as Scotland’s policy stalls

User Profile Image

By admin

Posted on May 6, 2024


3 min read

Whatsapp Facebook LinkedIn

The organization that represents Scotland’s universities is frustrated by the country’s current political unrest and its tardiness in implementing its new international education policy.

David Donaldson, senior policy officer at Universities Scotland, stated that the Scottish government’s obligations must be kept in an uncertain period during a panel discussion on regional responses to international initiatives held in the UK.

“We have filled the gap with international students because we have this political commitment to higher education, which on some level we can’t afford,” he said on May 1 to delegates at IHEF.

According to Donaldson, Scotland has a higher percentage of international students than the UK general, with 12% of its total student body being foreign.

However, the difficult path that Scottish politics have been taking lately—which includes a recent minister and cabinet change—brought Universities Scotland’s advocacy for the much-needed Scottish International Education Strategy.

“There are obstacles involved with the release. He went on to outline the Scottish Government’s commitment to its three main themes of supporting research, TNE, and Destination Scotland. “There was no additional investment committed along with our strategy,” he said.

He said, “In fact, our budget for international higher education was cut when the Scottish budget was announced.”

Recent weeks have seen an increase in political unrest following the departure of Humza Yousaf, the troubled first minister who succeeded Nicola Sturgeon, on April 29 due to the breakdown of a power-sharing agreement in Holyrood.

“To get, basically, promotion of Scotland as a study destination prioritized, we have spent a long time arguing with the Scottish government about exactly where that money should be prioritised,” Donaldson went on.

He also mentioned the significance of this step in light of the UK’s declining number of international students this year.

Despite promises by the Scottish Government to increase investment in the new plan, research spending has actually been fairly stable. This is in contrast to Scotland’s long standing reputation for excellence in research, which includes providing 12% of the UK’s research output, according to Donaldson.

He went on to mention that Scotland soft-launched a Scottish Migration Service in March, offering foreign students three complimentary consultations with citizens to talk about immigration issues.

Additionally, companies would be able to schedule free consultations with immigration attorneys to talk about how to get students sponsored and employed—a crucial step at a time when the Graduate route is unclear.

“Basically, no advertising was done due to budget cuts, and it’s not sure if employers in Scotland are aware of these opportunities,” he continued.

The silver lining, meanwhile, is that universities will keep cooperating with the next Scottish government and its future obligations.

“To bring it to a place where we would characterize it as feasible, we worked closely with the administration. At the very least, there has been a commitment to a cooperative approach to implementing this policy.”

“It aligns with our goals for attracting talent, expanding TNE, and strengthening our research base and free education program,” Donaldson continued. TNE enrolled more than 45,000 students in 2021–2022.