Olga Wojtas reports from a conference exploring the pitfalls and opportunities for HE in a devolved Scotland
Scottish higher education must not become academically isolated from the rest of the United Kingdom under a devolved parliament, Donald Dewar, secretary of state for Scotland, has pledged.
Mr Dewar, speaking at the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals' conference dinner in Glasgow, said that while higher education had been excluded from devolution proposals in 1978, he had the "very strong impression" that the sector was now in favour of being included. "But we see ourselves as part not just of the UK but of a European tradition, and there are areas where machinery will remain on a UK basis."
Standards must be defined and maintained for the UK as a whole, and there was no question of withdrawing from the research councils, Mr Dewar said.
John Arbuthnott, principal of Strathclyde University, which hosted the conference, said the sector was absolutely committed to supporting the transition to a Scottish parliament and ensuring it was a success.
"But it's not going to be a success unless the Scottish universities are able to draw on the expertise and the peer review and all the stimulation we get from colleagues across the whole of the United Kingdom."