STUDENTS have joined forces with universities, colleges and lecturers to fight for an end to public funding cuts.

Under the campaign NUS Scotland will work alongside key sector bodies including Colleges Scotland, Universities Scotland and trade unions.

The move comes amidst growing concern over the financial future of Scottish higher education.

Last week, a major international report warned Scottish universities were in “sustained decline” because of public funding cuts.

Higher education funding saw a real terms cut of 1.79 per cent in the last Scottish Budget.

Institutions are also facing financial pressure from changes to pensions contributions.

On Friday, the University of the West of Scotland opened a voluntary redundancy scheme in a bid to save an estimated £10 million.

Liam McCabe, president of NUS Scotland, said: “The message from Scotland’s students is clear. Our colleges and universities need funding, not rhetoric.

“If education really is the Scottish Government’s priority, they need to prove it with investment, not cuts.

“The fact is that continued cuts to college and university budgets will hit students hardest, whether it’s through a reduction in teaching staff, courses on offer, or support services available.

Mary Senior, UCU Scotland official, said students were understandably angry at funding cuts.

She said: “You can’t cut jobs without affecting the student experience, and you can’t have quality education on the cheap.”

Alastair Sim, director of Universities Scotland said: “We need to see greater levels of public investment in our universities.

“The Scottish Government must acknowledge that so many key bodies are concerned about the financial sustainability of the sector.”

The move by NUS Scotland was agreed by delegates at its annual conference in Dunblane.