Scotland's tradition of excellence in education is world renowned. We have a proud and unique history in learning for more than 500 years. Our universities remain the beacon of our international reputation with record numbers of overseas students, competitive global rankings and they provide 1.8 per cent of the world's research citations despite only having 0.1 per cent of the world's population.
The challenges ahead and the pressures on university funding are clear. This is why, since March 2010, Principals, unions, business, student representatives and many more interested parties across Scotland have been asked for sensible ideas on the issue of university funding - no matter how radical or innovative. Except from one - tuition fees - upfront or deferred. A "uniquely Scottish Solution" on how higher education will be paid for in the future must be found. This is not a simple issue, further complicated by the restraint of not having full fiscal autonomy.
On Thursday 16 December 2010 the 'Building a Smarter Future: Towards a Sustainable Scottish Solution for the Future of Higher Education' was launched.
The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning closed the consultation period via a statement to Parliament on 16 March 2011. The Scottish Government published on 28 March 2011 a report on the discussion events and formal consultation responses, a copy can be found at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2011/03/16095224/0. In the Parliamentary statement the Cabinet Secretary set out his priorities for higher education in Scotland and made a commitment to publish a comprehensive and conclusive set of proposals on higher education reform, including plans for legislation. He also set out his intention to embark on a reform programme for colleges. A copy of this statement can be found at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/Apps2/business/orsearch/ReportView.aspx?r=6188