Emerging from the mist.
Scotland currently has twenty seven higher education institutes. Seven of these are in the Russell Provider Group (RPG) having joined in the wake of the ‘incident’ in 2019. These are subject to the vigilance of the Office for Learner Provision Scotland (OfLPS) and linked to OfLP that regulates the other RPG Universities in the rest of the FUK States. Another twenty are part of the Alliance of Independent Providers (AIPs) that is privately financed and not regulated.
The AIP institutes have positioned themselves well to take advantage of the implementation of the Leisure Time Directive of the Western European Confederation. This will see compulsory ‘Life-long’ education plan announced earlier by the Re-Education Minister in England, Karl Corbyn Junior III. The aim to educate all citizens to the age of sixty will boost their student numbers on part-time courses (see earlier Timeline 2069 ‘Radical lifelong leaning plans announced’). A new contract with the Scottish Government to cover fees through the National Access Number (NAN) Levy will guarantee their commercial future. The Scottish First Minister, Charlene Caviar of the Socialist Conservative Alliance Movement (SCAM) Party Scotland, said that she fully supported the initiative that “would bring a new beginning to the people of Scotland”. The RPG Universities will see similar guarantees for some of their courses, however the general ‘no-fees’ policy will continue for the majority of students with high entrance qualifications. Although the philosophy is somewhat similar, this stance diverges from the rest of the FUK States .
Technological innovation and radical developments save the day.
The decline in research income led to the Scottish RPG Universities sliding down the world rankings. However, the positions in the recent World Academic Combined Key Information Evaluations, published by Sun Higher Education (SHE) and dubbed the WACKIE races by most academics, has shown a marked improvement. This has been in the background of a general decline in rankings across the FUK States. The inventions and investments developed in recent years appear to be paying off slowly. To offset the loss of research funding from the disintegrating UK, all of the RPG universities in Scotland formed a collaborative technology hub called ‘MacTech’. This was a structure designed to assist in speeding up their commercial developments and companies. An explosion in the number of companies spinning out of the campuses led to record investment in novel technological ideas. The expected high failure rate (82%) of the companies was offset by the MacTech structure and the smaller number of companies that turned out to be highly profitable. Every company paid high rental and lease fees to MacTech and did nor own much in terms of assets if they dissolved. This made MacTech itself a profitable enterprise.
The Scottish universities working with MacTech made significant and world leading breakthroughs. A notable example is the ultra compression Virtual Hologram System (VHS) from Dunedin University in Edinburgh. This enabled hologram lectures and speeches to be easily broadcast across the existing ultra-interweb broadband. A high definition data profile of the person is sent as a binary package prior to a live transmission. The streaming data for the transmission only has to make limited changes to movement of the image and sound during the broadcast. This has changed the educational experience of students across the world who can see leading academics perform 'live' in virtual reality. It has also netted Dunedin University ₿ billions in license fees.
The one black mark against the commercial developments was that most of the hundreds of companies that failed were supported by a venture capital enterprise in Canada. This had acquired investment funds from the recently exposed Provider Institutions Superannuation Scheme (PISS). The irony is that the PISS pension loss has only affected staff in the AIP Group of Universities whilst the RPG University staff have seen a windfall from their pensions (see University Pensions Scandal: Who's taking the PISS?)
By Alex MacSockeye, our Scotland Roving reporter.