SCOTTISH Government ministers have appealed to Westminster for financial support to be handed over to universities during the Covid-19 pandemic amid a pledge that Holyrood is â€œready to stand byâ€ institutions.
Earlier this month St Andrews University warned it faced a â€œhole in our financial positionâ€ of Â£25 million.
Scotlandâ€™s universities minister Richard Lochhead has warned that if Scottish universities saw a reduction inÂ international student admissions of just 50 per cent, that could lead to a loss of around Â£400 million.
During a Holyrood virtual questions session, Mr Lockhead was quizzed by opposition MSPs on the financial outlook for Scotlandâ€™s universities.
Labour MSP Daniel Johnson said: â€œThereâ€™s a very real risk that some (higher education) institutions may actually fail financially without intervention from the government.
â€œIs the Scottish Government ready to step in and make sure that does not happen?â€
Mr Lochhead confirmed that â€œthe Scottish Government is ready to stand by universitiesâ€.
He said: â€œWe are exploring every avenue we have available to us to support our universities to get through this and to avoid the potential scenario that you outlined.
â€œWhat Iâ€™m hearing back from universities is that they are being incredibly responsible – they are meeting this challenge as best they can. We still donâ€™t know the scale of it.â€
He added: â€œWe do expect a drop in international students. We donâ€™t know to what extent, but if it was up to a 50 per cent drop, for instance, that could cost ourÂ educationÂ sector Â£400 million of lost income.
â€œWe are making representations to the UK Government that we do need a support package for Scotlandâ€™s universities and indeed further and higher education.â€