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

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

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

2 CLT: SLS: Link to Improving Your Writing, Workshop booking

3 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

4 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?

5 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 )

6 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 2010-2011: 47.1M (cf. Glasgow, 83.5M) – Research funding is less than teaching grant; calculated on the results of the Research Excellence Framework exercise (every 7 years) And now, fees will be paid by some students to close the “funding gap”

7 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

8 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)


10 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) – Internal Teaching Reviews

11 And also… Number of Scottish school leavers attending university has been over 50%. But now the university has lowered the number of funded places (i.e. for Scottish and EU students). 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.

12 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 student’s background / specific disability, etc.

13 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.).

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

15 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 (

16 Centre for Learning & Teaching: Student Learning Service:

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