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A strategic analysis of the Scottish higher education sector’s distinctive assets

British Council Scotland. A strategic analysis of the Scottish higher education sector’s distinctive assets. 2013. Pages: 76.

Commissioned by British Council Scotland, the study draws a picture of the characteristics and distinctiveness of the Scottish higher education system. The authors of the study, William Lawton and Neil Kemp, approach the topic within four specific sections.

In the first part, they present general information on higher education in Scotland by providing context information as to funding and finance of Scottish higher education, the main public actors such as the Scottish Funding Council or Universities Scotland, the role of Scotland within the European Higher Education Area and the Bologna Process, the structure of graduate and postgraduate degrees, and the broader context between Scottish higher education and industry and business relations.

The second part deals in particular with research and student composition. As such, the authors examine Scottish higher education research output by means of data from the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) from 2008. Research in particular is put in comparison to UK universities. The authors give a detailed overview with regard to student enrolment, focusing strongly on international student numbers.

The third part deals with distinctive assets of the Scottish higher education system such as the strong linkages with business, industry and public sector employers and the high rate of industry-commissioned research in Scotland.

The last part deals briefly with the international perception of higher education in Scotland which, however, is not strongly given. Rather Scottish higher education is set in a broader UK image.

The study relies on data analysis from secondary sources such as RAE or the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), as well as on interviews with senior academic and administrative staff, Scottish education-related organisations and international education professionals.

British Council Scotland - Analysis