World leading research underpinned by EU and international collaborations.
EU nationals, including researchers, continue to be welcome at our universities despite the UK vote to leave the EU.
In a joint statement today the Scottish Government and Universities Scotland have made clear that the contribution of EU researchers to our excellent research as well as to our economy, society and culture is valued. Researchers in Scotland also continue to benefit from freedom of movement across the EU, enabling them to collaborate or to carry out research in the rest of Europe.
With five Scottish universities in the top 200 in the world, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science Shirley-Anne Somerville made clear that Scotland would remain an active partner in international research programmes and continue to benefit from EU and international funding based on the research excellence that exists across our Universities.
During a visit to the University of Edinburgh today, Ms Somerville said:
"Scotland has a thriving higher education sector and our research collaborations across Europe and the world are second to none.
"Our world leading universities are home to some of the most advanced research facilities and over the years have attracted the brightest and best researchers from across the EU and beyond. These talented individuals have played a key part in ground breaking innovative research in our institutions which has had a vital and positive impact in many areas of modern life, including science, technology and engineering.
"I do hope that despite Brexit, this reassurance from the government and Universities Scotland goes some way to encourage researchers based in Scotland and their European partners in many collaborative research programmes that Scotland's Universities are well and truly open for business.
"It is also encouraging that the EU Research Commissioner Carlos Moedas himself confirmed that until the end of the negotiations the UK remains a member of the EU and therefore will continue to have all the rights and obligations, including in relation to research programmes like Horizon 2020. We welcome this commitment and I am in no doubt that we will continue to participate in future pioneering research activities."
Professor Andrea Nolan, Convener-elect of Universities Scotland and Principal of Edinburgh Napier University, said:
"Europe has been and always will be a very important research partner to Scotland's 19 higher education institutions. This statement gives a clear indication of the continued value that Scotland puts on the contribution of our EU staff, many of whom are focused on research in Scotland, and our ability to work with European partners on ground-breaking research.
"We will keep working to secure solid assurances that the immigration status and rights of EU nationals currently working and living in our institutions will not change in future. Our staff need and deserve that certainty and Scottish higher education needs the ability to continue to attract and retain the best talent.
"Keeping our research links with partners across the EU and maintaining access to EU research programmes will be essential to continuing, and building on, the world-class nature of Scottish research. We believe this is compatible with the electorate's decision and would be to Scotland's immense benefit. It fuels innovation and economic growth. We have been encouraged by the support shown to us by the research community across the EU. We know from many different sources that our desire to continue these partnerships is reciprocated."
University of Edinburgh Senior Vice-Principal, Professor Charlie Jeffery, said:
"Edinburgh is, and always will be, a truly global university, pioneering ground-breaking research that has real-life impact the world over. We are committed to maintaining our research and exchange partnerships across Europe, and beyond. Our engagement internationally makes a major contribution to the £2 billion annually the University generates for the Scottish economy.
Full text of Joint Statement - SG and Universities Scotland:
Scotland's university research is widely recognised as amongst the best in the world. We have five universities in the Top 200 of the world and over three-quarters of our university research is described as world-leading or internationally excellent. Our research excellence is underpinned by extensive European and international collaborations. Scotland is an active and valued partner in a large number of EU research collaborations and has secured significant funding from EU research programmes as a result.
Following the EU referendum, Scotland continues to be eligible to participate in EU funding programmes. As the EU Research Commissioner Carlos Moedas himself confirmed, "until the end of the negotiations, UK remains a member of the EU and therefore with all the rights and obligations, including in relation to research programmes like Horizon 2020". We welcome this commitment.
Scottish universities will build on their existing relationships to continue to collaborate with a wide range of European and international partners. The Scottish Government and Universities Scotland will work together to ensure Scotland's universities maintain their strong relationship with partners in the EU and have opportunities to collaborate to drive up the quality and impact of their research.
Almost a quarter of researchers in our universities in Scotland are from other EU countries. Both the Scottish Government and Universities Scotland have made clear that EU nationals, including researchers, continue to be welcome at our universities following the referendum. The contribution of EU researchers to our excellent research as well as to our economy, society and culture is valued. Researchers in Scotland also continue to benefit from freedom of movement across the EU, enabling them to collaborate or to carry out research in the rest of Europe.
The UK Government has stated that "there has been no change to the rights and status of EU nationals in the UK" and we are seeking immediate reassurance that the immigration status and rights of EU nationals currently living in Scotland will not change in future. We believe that the outcome of the EU referendum makes it even more important that the UK Government supports the reintroduction of a post study work visa in Scotland to enable our universities to continue to attract and retain talent from across the world.
The Scottish Government's overriding objective is to protect and maintain Scotland's existing relationship with the European Union. The Scottish Government and Universities Scotland share the objective of enabling Scotland to continue to play a full role in European research programmes. Both organisations will work together using our collective influence in Brussels and elsewhere to ensure that it is well understood that universities in Scotland remain committed to collaborating with our European partners and to attracting the best international talent.