Scotland-based life scientists issue independence warning

Open letter casts doubt over future of clinical and biomedical research in event of ‘yes’ vote

September 2, 2014

A group of 65 academics based at Scottish universities have written an open letter expressing concern about the future of clinical and biomedical research if Scotland were to vote for independence.

The letter says Scotland’s 100-year-old “outstanding international reputation in the clinical and biomedical sciences” will “eroded and lost over time” if the country’s researchers were unable to access UK-wide funding.

The academics are led by Margaret Frame, science director at Cancer Research UK’s Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre and director of research at the University of Edinburgh’s College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, Graeme Milligan, dean of research at the University of Glasgow’s College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, and James Naismith, director of the Biomedical Sciences Research Complex at the University of St Andrews.

They note that, in 2012-13, Scottish institutions won 13.1 per cent of UK research council funding despite Scotland’s only having 8.4 per cent of the UK population.

“It is highly unlikely that an independent Scotland would be able to afford to deliver equivalent amounts of funding either through a future Scottish Research Council or through some form of subscription arrangement with the UK Research Councils. Moreover there is no guarantee that the major biomedical charities such as the Wellcome Trust would continue funding research on the current basis in what would be a foreign country,” they say.

They add that independence would “disrupt the integrated research network which has provided an outstanding research environment for the whole of the UK”, including large national facilities such as the Diamond Light Source.

In July, new minister for universities, science and cities Greg Clark warned that a vote for independence on September 18 would be “a vote to leave the UK’s institutions, such as the research councils”.

The skills available to Scottish institutions could also be hit by a “reduced opportunity to move smoothly between UK centres of excellence”, the academics say.

“We believe that remaining within the UK offers overwhelming advantages for biomedical research and development, including for commercialisation and wealth generation from the vital biomedical sector,” they say.

In July the presidents of the Royal Society, British Academy and Academy of Medical Sciences warned that Scottish independence would damage research across the UK, and particularly in Scotland. In the same month losing access to the research councils was revealed as the issue that most worries Scotland’s university principals about independence.

paul.jump@tesglobal.com

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 6 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
Register

Reader's comments (2)

Also an independent Scotland's potentially strong petro-currency likely would tend to ship jobs and businesses, including research contracts to competent cheaper competitors, such as rUK, which would need raise exports to make good for the loss of oil and gas revenues.
oh and these academics somehow believe that funding is safe under the Tories? Surely only a matter of time before 65 yes academics provide an alternative scenario -

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Head of Visual Arts UNIVERSITY OF HERTFORDSHIRE
Research Officer - Big Data for Better Outcomes LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS & POLITICAL SCIENCE LSE
Lecturer in Oral Microbiology UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Construction workers erecting barriers

Directly linking non-EU recruitment to award levels in teaching assessment has also been under consideration, sources suggest