We will pay too high a price for independence

September 18, 2014

The results of your survey show that a majority of Scottish academics will vote “no” in the referendum on 18 September and that an even larger proportion believe that separation will be damaging for Scottish universities (“Scottish academics set to reject call to break up UK”, News, 11 September). This reinforces the recent published concerns – in an open letter released by the Better Together campaign – of the 65 leading professors in clinical and biomedical research, the concerns of senior figures such as Sir Paul Nurse, president of the Royal Society, the concerns of former Scottish university principals and the published concerns of many other experts over the past year.

In an independent Scotland, Scottish universities would not be able to remain part of the UK research system. They would be hit by the loss of tuition fees from the rest of the UK, a loss of income from UK charities, increased difficulties in cross-border collaboration with the rest of the UK, a loss of access to the research infrastructure shared with the rest of the UK and probably a reduction in the number of overseas postgraduates. They would no longer benefit from the long-established worldwide links set up by UK agencies such as the British Council.

Devastating though this would be for our universities, it is of course equally damaging for the Scottish economy as a whole. We will all lose if our great universities suffer. Scottish universities contribute £6.7 billion annually to the Scottish economy and employ 142,000 people. They are important sources of innovation, attracting high-technology industry to Scotland, and they deeply enrich every aspect of our cultural life. What our universities are doing and will continue to do as part of the UK is to build on this heritage. I will vote “no” because I do not wish to put all this at risk.

Susan Shaw
Emeritus professor, University of Strathclyde

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

PhD Scholar in Medicine

University Of Queensland

Manager, Research Systems and Performance

Auckland University Of Technology

Lecturer in Aboriginal Allied Health

University Of South Australia

Lecturer, School of Nursing & Midwifery

Western Sydney University

College General Manager, SHE

La Trobe University
See all jobs

Most Commented

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder

Woman pulling blind down over an eye
Liz Morrish reflects on why she chose to tackle the failings of the neoliberal academy from the outside
White cliffs of Dover

From Australia to Singapore, David Matthews and John Elmes weigh the pros and cons of likely destinations

Mitch Blunt illustration (23 March 2017)

Without more conservative perspectives in the academy, lawmakers will increasingly ignore and potentially defund social science, says Musa al-Gharbi

Michael Parkin illustration (9 March 2017)

Cramming study into the shortest possible time will impoverish the student experience and drive an even greater wedge between research-enabled permanent staff and the growing underclass of flexible teaching staff, says Tom Cutterham