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The Scottish Higher Education System: an overview of key elements November 2012 Dr. Christine Laennec, Centre for Learning & Teaching.

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Presentation on theme: "The Scottish Higher Education System: an overview of key elements November 2012 Dr. Christine Laennec, Centre for Learning & Teaching."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Scottish Higher Education System: an overview of key elements November 2012 Dr. Christine Laennec, Centre for Learning & Teaching

2 We will look at: Higher Education Institutions in Scotland Nature of Scottish undergraduate degrees Funding (briefly!) Qualifications students may arrive with Scottish Qualifications Framework Quality Assurance Implications for teaching staff at Aberdeen

3 Higher Education Institutions in Scotland 20 HEIs: – ancients: Edinburgh (1582), St. Andrews (1413), Glasgow (1451), Aberdeen (1495) – 1960s: Dundee, Strathclyde, Heriot-Watt, Stirling – post-1992: Glasgow Caledonian, Napier, Queen Margaret, Robert Gordon University, etc. – 2010: University of the Highlands & Islands Future?

4 Scottish undergraduate degrees 4-year degree (generally) – 3-year degree is also possible (Ordinary Degree) – Some programmes, e.g. languages, may take 5 years In arts & humanities, M.A. is the first degree (no B.A.). Called an Honours Degree (M.A. Hons.) The extra year is at Level 1 Levels 1 & 2: wider breadth of study – teaching marks Levels 3 & 4: Honours levels – Marks count towards eventual degree classification (1 st ; 2i; 2ii; 3 rd )

5 How is HE funded in Scotland? Responsibility for education is devolved to the Scottish parliament Funding body: Scottish Funding Council – SFC distributes more than £1.5 billion to Higher Education and Further Education (FE) – Main teaching grant for Aberdeen in 2012-2013: 45.4M (cf. Glasgow, 83.7M)* – Research funding is less than teaching grant; calculated on the results of the Research Excellence Framework exercise (every 7 years) As of 2012, the Main Teaching Grant only covers students from Scotland and the EU. Rest of UK [RUK] students and international students pay tuition fees. *Scottish Funding Council press release, 20 December 2011, Table 2 [, consulted 23 October 2012].

6 What do students pay to study at the University of Aberdeen? Scottish students: free (Scottish government pays £1,820 annual fee) Rest of UK [RUK] students: £9,000 / year, max £27,000 EU students: free – Legal challenge to this? International students (non-EU): £10,500 - £13,500/year; £24,000/year for Medicine

7 What kinds of qualifications do students arrive with? Highers / Advanced Highers (Scottish students) A-levels (RUK) – encouraged to start at Level 2 International Baccalaureate HNC/HND (earned at College) – often go directly into Level 2 Access Summer School (many different backgrounds, incl. mature students)


9 Quality Assurance Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) is tasked with ensuring that HEIs deliver appropriate standards. Quality Enhancement Framework: – Enhancement Themes 8 have been completed since 2003 Currently Developing & Supporting the Curriculum, 2011- 2014 – Enhancement-Led Institutional Review (ELIR, every 4 years. Must be prepared by autumn 2013; visit 2014) – Internal Teaching Reviews

10 And also… Approximately 50% of school leavers in Scotland go on to do further or higher education. In August 2012, there was an outcry because of a perception that university places for fee-paying RUK students were plentiful, whereas Scottish students had fewer available university places during clearing. The Scottish government denied this was the case. If a university over-recruits, it must pay a penalty to the Scottish government. Curriculum for Excellence has now been extended to secondary level & FE. Equality Act means we must accommodate students with disabilities, including specific learning differences. Financial reality means that many nominally full-time students are working 15+ hours a week.

11 Implications for teaching staff Must teach a diverse student population: – Not all Level 1 students are school-leavers who share a similar background. – Increasingly, students will be entering at Level 2 (Direct Entry). – Many students who have received support for dyslexia and other learning differences in school will expect support at university. However, as teachers we are not usually informed of a students background / specific disability, etc.

12 Resources Each School has a Director of Teaching & Learning, and a Director of Research; each School has a disability officer. There are research networks, centres and events at the university. There is increasing research collaboration between universities. There are symposia on teaching & learning at the university, as well as nationwide (Enhancement Themes, etc.).

13 Resources The Centre for Learning & Teaching can give tailored advice and help for teaching, including e-learning. The Centre for Learning & Teaching offers a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education. The Student Learning Service offers tailored in-course sessions. Student Support organises provisions for students with disabilities; this may include seeing dyslexia adviser.

14 Online resources Centre for Learning & Teaching website has resources and case studies of innovative teaching practices here at Aberdeen. For Students: – ACHIEVE on My Aberdeen (under My Organisations) – Academic Learning Resources on My Aberdeen (under My Organisations) – Improving Your Writing ( – SLS workshops (

15 Centre for Learning & Teaching: Student Learning Service:

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