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Scottish Funding Council cuts will declimate planning education (1)

08 December 2009

  • Planning and architecture specifically targeted for 22% funding cuts
  • Move undermines Government's own targets on reducing carbon emissions and quality of place

Responding to the Scottish Funding Council's consultation on future spending allocations for university courses, the Royal Town Planning Institute has attacked the proposal to downgrade planning and architecture courses to the lowest possible level of funding, warning that this will decimate the planning sector in Scotland at a time when the nation faces major environmental, regeneration and development challenges.

Veronica Burbridge, National Director of the RTPI in Scotland said:

\"Cutting funding for planning education by almost a quarter at a time when we need more and better skilled planners in Scotland is at best short-sighted, and at worst a severe dereliction of duty by the Scottish Funding Council.  We need to be training and skilling a new generation of urban planners to tackle the challenges of reducing carbon emissions and making Scotland's towns and cities better places to live, not destroying the sector. These cuts, if implemented, could mean the end of planning education in Scotland as we know it, which would be a terrible end to a proud history of innovation, free-thinking and positive change.\"

The RTPI is extremely concerned about the SFC's proposal to place planning in the proposed subject Group D, which would mean a cut of almost a quarter from current funding provisions, further disadvantaging Scottish university planning courses which are already less well funded than their equivalents in England. The Institute considers that this would run contrary to the Scottish Government's own key objective of 'place making' and would have serious impact on the training and recruitment of town planners in Scotland, further heightening existing skill shortages.

The Scottish Government has legislated to deliver a much more sustainable built environment and Scottish trained urban planners are at the forefront of delivering solutions to the issue of global urbanisation – both of which would be put at risk by such a move. As such, the RTPI feels strongly that planning and architecture courses (which are also threatened with large funding cuts) must be placed in the proposed Group C and not relegated to the bottom division.

The RTPI believes that the inclusion of Planning in the SFC proposed funding group D, a 22% drop in the funding per full time student is unacceptable and would mean that it may no longer be possible to offer appropriately validated planning courses in Scotland to the RTPI's standards of excellence.

Planning Schools in Scotland and funding

There are five departments offering planning courses at Scottish universities: Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, Heriot Watt and Strathclyde. The current allocation per full time undegraduates studying town and country planning is £6415 – the proposed new level of funding would be £5000, a cut of £1415 per full time student equivalent.

SFC consultation document –

'Teaching funding subject price groups for higher education institutions'

RTPI consultation response –