'Scottish high-fliers will be poached'

October 10, 2003

Medicine, modern languages and science in Scotland could suffer from the knock-on effects of England's white paper on higher education, an inquiry has heard.

The Scottish Parliament's enterprise and culture committee has received some 40 written submissions to its Scottish Solutions inquiry. They overwhelmingly warn that Scottish higher education institutions will be at a competitive disadvantage if England has top-up fees, increased research selectivity and increased funds for research infrastructure.

The British Medical Association Scotland fears that the effects of top-up fees and research concentration in England could hit patient care. Scotland is desperately short of doctors, it says, and it is essential that the higher education system is capable of producing the necessary workforce.

"There is a serious recruitment and retention problem with medical academics in Scotland," it says. "This would be worsened if Scottish medical academic staff were attracted to medical schools in England offering excellent research opportunitiesI and pay."

English medical schools are likely to charge the full £3,000 fee.

This could lead to large numbers of English medical students applying to Scotland, pushing out Scottish applicants, and then returning to England to practise, the BMA Scotland says.

The Universities Council of Modern Languages (Scotland) says languages are already seriously underfunded compared with England. Any further disparity in funding means Scotland risks losing staff and decreasing the range of languages on offer in higher education and schools.

The Royal Society of Chemistry fears the accelerated loss of research funds from industry while the Institute of Physics Scotland foresees the "cross-border reiving" (pillaging) of Scots research stars.

The most widely held view among those responding to the inquiry is that it is up to the Scottish Executive to make good any shortfall.

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