Press release

MillionPlus launches Scottish election manifesto

13 Apr 2021

MillionPlus, the Association for Modern Universities, has today (14 April) launched its manifesto ahead of the Scottish elections on 6 May, asking Scottish parliamentary candidates to commit to five pledges to support modern universities and their students to drive inclusive growth and opportunity across Scotland.

Professor Nigel Seaton, Principal of Abertay University and MillionPlus Executive member, said:

“With the launch of this manifesto we ask all MSP candidates to commit to properly fund modern universities in Scotland so they can continue to provide life-changing education opportunities across the length and breadth of Scotland.

“Scotland’s seven modern universities are significantly underfunded and the next government should seek to redress this by increasing per-student teaching funding.

“Underfunding our modern universities puts at risk the progress made in recent years to widen access to higher educations. Almost 60% of full-time students at modern universities are from the most disadvantaged backgrounds and we hope the next government will give proper consideration to the institutions which have and continue to do the heavy lifting when it comes to giving opportunities to all who can benefit from higher education.

“To help ensure a robust recovery from the pandemic, the next government should also commit to establish a Public Services Education Capital Investment programme. Almost a third of students at modern universities study courses directly linked to public services, including nursing and teaching. They have been vital throughout the pandemic and the value and weight of their contribution should be recognised, along with the universities that train them.

“Modern universities also work closely with businesses across Scotland, from course design and knowledge exchange to apprenticeships. These universities already contribute some £2bn to their regional economies and support 30,000 jobs. Increased investment would help further cement these vital links between universities and their communities.”

The five pledges are:

  • The next government will commit to increase the ‘per student’ investment in Scottish higher education.
  • The next government will establish a new Public Services Education Capital Investment programme to enable universities to invest in high-quality, high-tech simulation equipment and other infrastructure.
  • The next government will ensure that investment in widening participation recognises the value and reflects the work done by modern universities in supporting their local communities.
  • The next government will fully fund graduate apprenticeships and increase investment that is specifically aimed at improving university-business partnerships.
  • The next government will commit to long-term, sustainable investment in research and knowledge exchange to enable Scotland’s modern universities to support businesses to exploit research that creates economic growth and job opportunities for local communities.


Notes to editors

  1. For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact Dan Blows on 020 3927 2916 or email
  2. The MillionPlus manifesto is available online here
  3. MillionPlus is the Association for Modern Universities in the UK, and the voice of 21st century higher education. We champion, promote and raise awareness of the essential role and impact of modern universities in the UK’s world-leading higher education sector. More information can be found at
  4. What are modern universities? Modern universities are long established centres of higher education in their communities with roots that stretch back decades, if not centuries. Many gained university title following legislation agreed by parliament in 1992. They make up almost half of the UK university sector with over a million students studying at modern universities every year.
  5. Modern universities: facts and stats

Download Scottish election manifesto 2021: Supporting universities to drive growth and opportunity in Scotland »