The Chancellor of the University of St Andrews, Sir Menzies Campbell, has called on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to abandon controversial plans to restrict tax relief on charitable donations.
Sir Menzies says the proposals “run the serious risk of adverse impact on the higher education sector.”
In a letter to George Osborne, the North East Fife MP warns of the “considerable financial pressures” facing St Andrews and other Scottish universities and that the Chancellor’s plans threaten to scupper major fundraising efforts, such as St Andrews’ attempt to raise £100 million for scholarships, teaching and research on its 600th anniversary.
Sir Menzies’ letter says:
“I am writing to you in my capacity as both MP and Chancellor of St Andrews University which is currently engaged in its 600th anniversary celebrations. As part of these the University is endeavouring to establish an endowment fund of £100million, a task made difficult in present economic conditions. Government policy has encouraged the University to seek financial support from sources other than public funds.
“You will understand therefore the dismay felt by St Andrews University (and others) by your announcement in the Budget that tax relief on charitable donations is to be restricted. St Andrews University is recognised as a charity and tax relief provides a valuable incentive to those considering whether to make such donations. A further consideration for Scottish Universities is that the policy of the Holyrood Government prevents the charging of tuition fees to Scottish European citizens.
“The financial pressures on Scottish universities are as a result of these circumstances very considerable indeed. To restrict tax relief in the way you have proposed can only add to these pressures. I therefore urge you to reconsider your proposals to change the existing tax regime so far as it affects charitable donations in general and universities such as St Andrews in particular.
“To proceed in the way identified in the Budget Statement runs the serious risk of adverse impact on the higher education sector.”
St Andrews has raised approximately £30 million of its £100 million target so far, and last week announced a major gift of over £1 million from former student Mr Gordon Bonnyman to fund scholarships in the arts. The University however says this is the kind of vital major gift under threat from the Budget proposals.
Issued by the University of St Andrews
Niall Scott, Director of Communication