Plea for joint effort to bridge English-Scottish divide

May 30, 2003

Fault lines are emerging between England and post-devolution Scotland in higher education and health, according to the principal of Dundee University.

Sir Alan Langlands, former chief executive of the National Health Service in England, gave the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother fellowship lecture, "Synchronising Higher Education and the NHS", for the Nuffield Trust in London last week.

Divergent routes were being taken north and south of the border, he said.

England was introducing top-up fees in 2006 while the Scottish political parties rejected this, and England was creating foundation hospitals while Scotland was abolishing NHS trusts.

He said it was crucial for the NHS and higher education to work together to tackle the nation's health and to meet the needs of the local population.

Universities must try to align their research portfolios with national and local health-service priorities. Both sectors faced similar short-term challenges of dealing with a legacy of underspending and developing facilities, employment policies and competitive salaries to attract and to keep high-quality staff, Sir Alan said.

There would be enormous pressure on Scottish politicians to match the higher funding levels fuelled by top-up fees. But he believed the opportunities from changes in policy should outweigh the threats.

"Higher levels of funding, improved information systems for patient care and research and the way in which more explicit service and professional standards now inform the education of doctors, nurses and the allied health professions are all very positive signs," he said.

"With the drive to achieve better value for increasing investment in health, it is reasonable to challenge the beneficiaries, including medical schools, to demonstrate the contribution they are making to better health and more effective services."

Sir Alan added that medical schools' social accountability should not begin and end with local responsibilities. "There is an urgent need for continuing effort to upgrade the skills and capability of healthcare professionals in the poorer countries of the world. The response from the developed world should not be to recruit from these countries but to provide support."

Dundee is one of the key institutions behind the International Virtual Medical School (Ivimeds), which aims to give medical students throughout the world access to international expertise through a combination of e-learning and local clinical experience.

Already registered?

Sign in now if you are already registered or a current subscriber. Or subscribe for unrestricted access to our digital editions and iPad and iPhone app.

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE
Academic Director (Primary) ST MARYS UNIVERSITY, TWICKENHAM
Vice-Chancellor MASSEY UNIVERSITY
Operations Support Administrator CAMBRIDGE ASSESSMENT

Most Commented

Elderly woman looking up at sky

A recent paper claims that the quality of researchers declines with age. Five senior scientists consider the data and how they’ve contributed through the years

A keyboard with a 'donate' key

Richard Budd mulls the logic of giving money to your alma mater

Woman tearing up I can't sign

Schools and universities are increasingly looking at how improving personalities can boost social mobility. But in doing so, they may be forced to choose between teaching what is helpful, and what is true, says David Matthews

Otto illustration (5 May 2016)

Craig Brandist on the proletarianisation of a profession and how it leads to behaviours that could hobble higher education

Door peephole painted as bomb ready to explode

It’s time to use technology to detect potential threats and worry less about outdated ideas of privacy, says Ron Iphofen