Universities in Scotland will have £417 million less for day-to-day spending than four years ago if the Budget is approved this week, according to new figures.
Labour say the 11% real terms reduction in revenue funds for vice-chancellors since Nicola Sturgeon become First Minister destroys her claim that education is a priority.
The SNP Government said they have once again handed universities more than £1 billion for everyday spending.
The Budget is due complete its passage through Holyrood on Thursday after income tax changes are confirmed on Tuesday.
Figures from the Scottish Parliament Information Service, obtained by Scottish Labour, reveal that universities’ resource budget will be £1.007 billion for 2019-20.
That compares with £1.135bn in 2014-15.
Allowing for the impact of inflation, that amounts to a £417m reduction in spending power over that period, according to the Labour analysis of the Spice data.
Iain Gray, for Scottish Labour, said Ms Sturgeon’s claim that education is her priority is “utterly farcical when stacked up next to the numbers”.
“Universities have faced more cuts under the SNP,” he said.
“That’s bad for students in Scotland and for the future of the Scottish economy – but rather than reverse those cuts, the SNP-Green budget proposes even more.”
Higher Education Minister Richard Lochead said the funding deal for universities will help them remain “attractive, competitive and truly excellent in global terms”.
“Labour’s attack on university funding is puzzling given that they failed to demand a single extra penny for universities during their shambolic budget negotiations,” he said.
“We have invested over £1bn in our universities every year since 2012-13.”
He added: “Unlike the Labour party, we continue to protect the principle of free education – as well as widening access to university for people from the most deprived communities.”
The final vote on the Budget bill for 2019-20 is being held on Thursday.
It is expected to pass after the SNP and Greens came to a deal handing the Scottish Government a majority in Holyrood.
That included extra cash for councils and a commitment from the Nationalists to pursue replacing council tax with a more progressive model.
On Tuesday, MSPs will vote on whether to agree the income tax plan announced by Finance Secretary Derek Mackay in the draft Budget in December.
Those changes, which include freezing the higher rate threshold, will mean better paid Scots are liable for even more tax than their English counterparts on the same salaries, raising fears about Scotland’s competitiveness.
Nearly all Scottish resident income taxpayers will pay no more next year than they currently do, Mr Mackay has said.