Glasgow University’s tuition fee increase: a response from Principal Anton Muscatelli

The Principal has responded to the letter the SRC Exec penned in response to the news that Glasgow University would be increasing tuition fees.

Principal Anton Muscatelli has responded to the joint letter penned by the SRC Executive.

The full letter can be found below.

“Dear Ameer, Kate, Erin, Mhairi,
Thank you for your letter of the 18 October and for raising your concerns regarding Court’s decision to increase tuition fees for rUK students.

I understand and appreciate your concerns and it was important that you raised them at Court and that Court heard your views.

I believe we all accept that the University has to work within a national and international context and as a consequence, we often have to face and take difficult decisions to meet the challenges that confront us for the benefit of the University. While I accept you do not welcome the increase in rUK tuition fees, Court in supporting a small increase (less than 3%) was affirming a continuation of Glasgow’s established policy of setting its fee level in alignment with that of the UK’s top universities. As I stressed to you in our meeting, and as I believe Neal reiterated in a recent meeting with you, the fee income from rUK students cannot be treated in isolation from the funding received by Scottish HEls from the SFC. That said, Court also reaffirmed the University’s position of maintaining fee charges for 3 years of study rather than 4. To that extent Glasgow is seeking to maintain its own and distinctive approach to rUK fees.

I would assure you that if a substantial change to our fee policy were being considered, such as moving to charging for a full 4 years of study, then this would indeed involve consultation with the SRC.

When it comes to TEF, we have taken a cautious approach in consultation with the other Scottish universities. The Scottish sector and this University values the Scottish Quality Enhancement Framework and we would not want to jeopardise it in favour of TEF.
Indeed, as I explained at Council of Senate, my personal view on Scottish engagement with the TEF is that we should seek, as Scottish HEls to develop our own different but equivalent approach, which recognises the distinctive nature of Scottish HE.

But we are also acutely aware that there may well be a negative reputational impact for individual Scottish Universities if all other UK, and particularly some Scottish universities, enter TEF because of potential benchmarking by rUK students. As I mentioned in my report to Court, we are watching the development of TEF very closely and we are engaged with the Scottish sector in influencing the direction of travel. Like all other UK HE institutions, we qualify for TEF Bronze status by virtue of the outcome of our last ELIR but we are not, in any way, committed to being part of the later stages of TEF. In fact, as things stand, entry into TEF stage 2 looks unlikely. I can, however, assure you that we will not even consider entering this stage before we fully understand the implications and have consulted appropriately. We will also continue to press within Universities Scotland for a distinctive and different Scottish approach.

I am sorry if you believe that the way the fees issue was handled suggests any shift away from the excellent partnership Court, SMG and I have enjoyed over recent years with the SRC. Certainly from my perspective nothing could be further from the truth and as we face the challenges ahead, whether these be around fees or TEF, or any other issues, I very much hope that we can maintain the open, frank and consultative relationship that has served the University so well.

In spite of the challenges, great opportunities lie ahead for the University and I for one believe we can only fully embrace them and so make the most of them working with you, the SRC and our students.
With best wishes,
Professor Anton Muscatelli”