Scottish independence: MPs claim Yes vote would damage education

University library The report said the Scottish government must make clear how it would deal with a loss of financial support

A Westminster committee has said independence would have a damaging effect on higher education and research in Scotland.

MPs on the Scottish affairs committee said the impact would be "far greater than that acknowledged by the Scottish government".

Scottish Education Secretary Mike Russell said the committee was mainly made up of anti-independence MPs.

"It is little surprise their report opposes independence," he said.

Voters in Scotland will go to the polls on 18 September when they will be asked the "yes/no" question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

The committee's report said the Scottish government's proposals to make students from the rest of the UK pay tuition fees while allowing free access for students from the rest of the EU "would not be legally sustainable".

It said that based on current student numbers it would cost £150m for Scotland to treat UK students the same as those from the EU.

The report also found Scottish universities currently received 50% more in research grants from the UK Research Councils than they would if allocation of funding was based on population share.

It said the Scottish government must make clear how it would deal with this loss of financial support.

Labour MP Ian Davidson, chair of the committee, said: "Higher education and research is one of the policy areas where the divergence between the assertions of the Scottish government and reality are at their starkest.

"The Scottish government has a clear responsibility to tell the Scottish people how it would manage the damaging effects of changes in higher education and research that separation would bring."

However, Mr Russell said: "With independence, it will be in Scotland's and the UK's interests to maintain a common research area including shared Research Councils. We would negotiate a fair funding formula with Westminster for the future.

"On tuition fees, the requirements of the EU allow for objective justification - that is clear evidence of exceptional circumstances - this is explicitly acknowledged on page 199 of Scotland's Future and also made in independent legal advice sought by Universities Scotland."

A spokesman for pro-independence group, Academics for Yes, said the biggest threat to Scotland's higher education and research sector "comes from further Westminster cuts in 2015".


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  • rate this

    Comment number 469.

    445 pickle68
    "I'm Scottish 1st and British 2nd and quite happy to be so."

    That's nice, but you're confusing the issue with flag-waving nationalism. Support for "Yes" is about wanting Scotland to have a government that the people of Scotland vote for. What's wrong with that?

    464 - That's a profoundly stupid point, and can easily be countered by bringing up the EDL & other mad British nationalists

  • rate this

    Comment number 468.

    440. MarkR1759
    A NO vote will not be a SAFE vote in the Scottish Referendum.
    If you intend voting NO, then consider what you are actually voting FOR
    On the other hand, if you vote 'Yes' you won't be considering anything at all - no firm policy on anything, just a lot of smoke and mirrors.

  • rate this

    Comment number 467.

    Instead of marking people who have a different opinion to the SNP down - what doesn't somebody in that community just answer my question???

  • rate this

    Comment number 466.

    It looks like that the result in Crimea to rejoin Russia would be over 80%. It would be sad to see if over 80% of the Scottish people would vote to leave the UK.

    Above all, hope it would be a peaceful process for both UK and Ukriain. Like the relatively peaceful process for North Sudan and South Sudan

  • rate this

    Comment number 465.

    @ 453. You make a very good point and people need to realise the significance of voting Yes, it is not something they can undo at the next election, it is a one way street. Be careful of what you wish for it you are going to vote Yes.


Comments 5 of 469


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