More than 100 professors have signed a letter warning of a “crisis at universities” as it emerged that more Scottish pupils will be turned away due to SNP funding cuts.

A joint letter signed by 111 Edinburgh University academics calls for Peter Mathieson, the university principal, to be held to account for plummeting staff morale. The growing disquiet among lecturers comes as it emerged there will be about 1,400 fewer funded university places for Scottish students this year.

The Scottish Funding Council, the SNP government quango, said there were fewer places because funding per student is being cut. David Farrier, professor of literature and the environment, who is the lead signatory to the letter, said: “Scottish universities are in crisis. Staff morale is lower than ever, eroded by job insecurity, gendered and racial disparities in pay and unsustainable workloads. Students’ education suffers when lecturers have to worry about paying the rent.”

Farrier said two thirds of university staff were considering leaving the sector, as cuts to pay and conditions would lead to a brain drain if “only those with a private income can afford to pursue an academic career”.

He said “unjustified pension cuts” will see some lose on average more than a third of their retirement income.

Want to see more SNP fails? – Politics Matters

Sign up to receive our weekly newsletter and join the fightback against Scottish Nationalism.