Does anyone understand funding and admissions for Scottish universities?

(36 Posts)
Nospringflower Sat 30-Apr-16 22:06:18

A friend was talking about this and said a number of things about how the system works and I wasn't convinced how accurate she was. I have just been googling to try and find out more but can't. Hoping I can ask questions to someone who knows how it all works! Thanks

Ricardian Sat 30-Apr-16 22:55:13

For English students? Scottish students? Welsh students? EU students? US students?

For English students, admission and costs are the same as going to university in England.

Nospringflower Sat 30-Apr-16 23:57:28

Sorry, for Scottish students going to Scottish universities. Friend was saying that her private educated son is disadvantaged due to the way they take in students and the fact that english students pay whereas Scottish ones can't pay even if they fail to get in under the "scottish quota". I didn't think any of this sounded quite right. (I am Scottish living in Scotland but no experience!)

RJnomore1 Sun 01-May-16 00:01:11

This is a few years old but explains it and I don't think there has been any major change.

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/scotland/10226794/Scottish-universities-operating-two-tier-clearing-system-favouring-English.html

They're limited in the number of Scottish students they can take.

MatthewWrightResearch Sun 01-May-16 00:03:42

Just marking my place to read this in the morning, I've got a DD going to uni in September and I think I've spent too long on Google reading things that nothing makes sense to me now.

AgentProvocateur Sun 01-May-16 00:20:47

Yes, there is a quota of scottish students due to them not paying fees (well, the SG does, but the level is lower than English / overseas students pay). Privately educated son may be further disadvantaged because some courses give weight to students socio-economic position to boost uni attendance from deprived areas.

Sadusername Sun 01-May-16 09:45:12

I have also been googling Scottish universities late at night from the perspective of an English Dd. I didn't see information about quota Scottish students, but thought an EU quota was mentioned. However I do remember reading a thread (that later disappeared) where a Scottish Lecturer posted that Scottish universities wanted English students due to the funding they brought with them. In fact he suggested Scottish unis couldn't go on much longer with the level of funding they received. It also stated that English students could attract lower offers, although I doubt they could advertise this! Not sure how much of what I read is true.
The flexibility of the Scottish degree looks attractive though. A friends DS went off to Scotland to study Maths and Economics and is currently spending the year in Russia learning Russian! However there were also suggestions on one of the old mumsnet threads that the Scottish MA was not the equivalent of the post graduate ones. In fact that the first year was 'a waste' of funding and with higher a levels grades you could go straight into the second year. I also wondered if a Scottish MA could preclude you from applying from post graduate funding?
Another bit of information I could not confirm on university websites but was on relatively old threads was that some Scottish universities will cap fees for English students.
Can anyone shed any light on these points. Has anyone with a Dc at a Scottish university been adversely affected by cutbacks caused by lack of funding?

Sadusername Sun 01-May-16 10:18:35

Ok, so the telegraph article linked above answers some of my questions. It would be in clearing that Englisg students were taken with lower grades.

titchy Sun 01-May-16 12:12:01

A Scottish MA should not be an issue for PG study as it would be regarded as Bachelors level. English students fees capped at £9k. Quota exists for non-UK EU and Scottish students.

titchy Sun 01-May-16 12:12:52

Oh and yes Scottish universities are MASSIVELY struggling financially.

Sadusername Sun 01-May-16 12:58:16

I meant they capped fees at £27 000, making the fourth year free.
How would the financial difficulties be impacting on the delivery of courses? I'd what would a student notice?

RJnomore1 Sun 01-May-16 13:53:35

Scottish MA - Glasgow and I think one other uni (St Andrews?) do ma courses which are ug courses. So no they are not the equivalent of a masters - Glasgow MA is SCQF level 10 and a masters is level 11.

RJnomore1 Sun 01-May-16 13:56:07

Ooh I was wrong a few of them do it sorry en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master_of_Arts_(Scotland)

hayita Sun 01-May-16 16:18:24

How would the financial difficulties be impacting on the delivery of courses? I'd what would a student notice?

Lower funding means staff not being replaced when they leave and (potentially) compulsory redundancies. Reduced staff numbers means higher staff:student ratio, potentially less modules offered, staff more stressed by higher teaching load. These in turn potentially imply difficulties in recruiting top quality staff, good staff leaving for other countries, less time for high quality research and less depth/breadth/innovation in curriculum. Financial difficulties can also mean less teaching assistants (where they are used); fewer materials handed out to students; fewer assignments marked etc etc.

Put together with the reductions in research funding caused by UK government the teaching funding cuts might in the medium term mean sliding down international league tables and hence reduced reputation of the institution, so decreased value of the degree.

However, it's not clear that at the moment Scots universities are actually suffering from all of these problems. I think it varies quite a bit between universities/courses. For example, in my subject, one institution had an injection of strategic research funding which is mitigating reductions in teaching income for the short term whereas other institutions have been hit much worse.

Sadusername Sun 01-May-16 16:32:31

Thanks RJ- Looks like the MLitt is the Scottish equivalent of a post graduate masters.
So now I am wondering what the advantage of the extra year is. Would it be the flexibility of choosing from a much wider range of modules.
Is a free year a bit of a myth the then?!

Hayita- that sounds worrying. But obviously a bit trickier to figure out which universities and departments are affected.

RhodaBull Sun 01-May-16 17:17:16

So four years at a Scottish university costs the same as three years at an English one? Is this true for all the universities and courses or just for some courses at struggling universities?

titchy Sun 01-May-16 17:51:38

Applies to all courses. Don't forget your dcs would need to eat and be housed for the fee-free year though!

Ricardian Sun 01-May-16 17:55:39

So four years at a Scottish university costs the same as three years at an English one?

The fees cap is political whitewashing. Fees go onto a student's SLC account, which is the softest money you will ever borrow, and simply alters the balance of whether you ultimately repay it all or not. Even for a relatively well paid graduate, the years in which it will alter your repayments will be your 40s.

However, for parents who are not in very low income brackets, the main issue is the immediate, right here right now, cash outlay for maintenance requirements over and above the maintenance loan (which, in passing, also isn't capped). So if your view of the realistic cost of a student living to a standard you are happy to fund them at is (say) ten grand a year, then it's going to mean an additional five grand SLC maintenance loan (same point as above) and, more importantly for the parents, an additional five grand right now (or, more accurately, in four years' time).

From the point of view of the outlay from the parents then, assuming you are not eligible for income-related additional loans, a four year degree costs 33% more than a three year degree wherever you do it, because it takes 33% longer. I realise parents with children in the process of applying are terribly exercised about fees, but I find it depressing the number of parents I've met who appear completely startled at the need to help fund living costs.

All the points about the differences between four year "masters" undergraduate courses and a bachelor's degree plus a specialist masters are well made: the main reason for the existence of four year undergraduate "masters" in STEM is the requirements of some professional bodies for faster routes to CEng.

RhodaBull Sun 01-May-16 17:55:45

I do think it would majorly stick in my craw though if most of the other students were fee free.

RJnomore1 Sun 01-May-16 18:47:19

Just for clarification - the MA is an undergraduate degree in the arts. All Scottish undergraduate degrees are four years long.

Some STEM degrees now do an integrated masters which gives an MsC or an MEng rather than a BSc and that's a proper post grad masters (SCQF level 11)

hayita Sun 01-May-16 18:49:11

the main reason for the existence of four year undergraduate "masters" in STEM is the requirements of some professional bodies for faster routes to CEng.

This is not the only reason: the four year undergraduate masters is used for prospective STEM PhD students to get more knowledge before starting their PhD, without having to fund a full masters. Funding for masters is hard to obtain (the new 10k loans won't go very far) and it was a very deliberate decision taken by STEM departments in the mid 1990s to add a year to the undergraduate (under undergraduate funding rules).

UK STEM PhD students are still at a disadvantage relative to many other countries in the world, as they only have 4 years undergraduate plus 3/4 years PhD, compared to 3 years bachelors + 2 full years of masters + 3/4 PhD in many other places. Without that fourth year of undergraduate it would be almost impossible for many of our PhDs to remain at PhD level and for our PhD graduates to be internationally competitive.

Lycaenidae Sun 01-May-16 20:14:31

the four year undergraduate masters is used for prospective STEM PhD students to get more knowledge

Indeed. But rates of PhDs in most STEM fields are pretty low, and most people who take a four year undergraduate programme aren't considering, and don't do, a PhD.

Sadusername Sun 01-May-16 20:38:48

So would you not get student finance for a fee free year?

Ricardian Sun 01-May-16 21:30:29

So would you not get student finance for a fee free year?

Yes, you would. But unless you have a low household income, that loan will not be sufficient to live on without parental input.

raspberryrippleicecream Sun 01-May-16 23:39:53

DS (English) applied for a STEM masters at a Scottish Uni but to enter in second year, so four years instead of five. He would still have had the 'free' year taken into account, you pay each year pro rata. So tuition fees would have been slightly cheaper than his four year course in England.

He formed an English uni though as the course was better. It would really have annoyed me paying Uni fees alongside non-paying students.

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