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bettertogether. Excelling together: The future of Scotland’s universities. 2014. Pages: 16.
Probably situated somewhere in-between an advertisement against Scottish independence and an evaluation of the potential negative impact in case of Scottish independence, this report tries to point out why and how higher education and research in Scotland are better off within a unified United Kingdom rather than within an independent Scotland.
Phrased as a more or less direct response to the Scottish government’s white paper on Scotland’s independence, two potential problems are being presented in the report.
Firstly, an independent Scotland runs risk of dropping out of the UK research area. Although the Scottish government’s white paper states the intention to remain part of this framework, the authors of the report have serious doubts whether the UK would continue to support net outflow of research funding for a then foreign country. Moreover, Scottish researchers would no longer have the access to the UK’s research facilities and it is unlikely that Scotland could replicate these on a smaller scale.
Secondly, an independent Scotland as a potential future member state of the European Union would no longer be entitled to charge English, Welsh and Northern Irish students tuition fees for university education, as it is currently the case. Although the Scottish government’s white paper states the intention to continue charging tuition fees for students from the rest of the UK, this would not be possible as an EU member state unless Scottish students were charged the same amount.
The report does not offer a particularly thorough analysis on the potential impact on higher education and research in case of Scottish independence, but raises a few important issues which apparently have not been sufficiently taken into account.
The report is available here.