Scottish Liberal Democrats have questioned why SNP ministers have failed to allocate £21m of university funding.
The calls come after it was revealed that former Education Secretary Michael Russell advised the Scottish Funding Council to make spending plans on the basis of £1041m for HE resource - £21m below the £1062.5m proposed in the Scottish Government’s Budget laid before the parliament in January this year.
The cut will be taken from the Global Excellence Fund, created to boost the global footprint of university research, and from "efficiency savings" in teaching and research. Scottish Liberal Democrats have said the held funds look suspiciously like a ministerial slush fund being saved up for the election.
Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP said:
“Parliament will vote next week to give £1062m to Scottish universities. We need to hear why SNP ministers have decided to keep hold of £21m of this funding with no explanation where they are diverting the money to.
“This looks suspiciously like a ministerial slush fund being saved up for the election.
“Students and researchers at our universities deserve to have this money spent in accordance with Parliament’s wishes not put in the SNP’s back pocket.
“This fresh delay in spending on important economic measures comes on top of the huge underspend in the budget that the SNP last year in their overall budget. The SNP took their eye off the ball on day to day services when they focused on the referendum. Now they are holding back money. This can only damage research and jobs in Scotland.”