Friday, 9 November 2012

Osborne's Research Attack Boomerangs on Anti-Independence Campaign

The anti-independence campaign suffered a humiliating setback today (Friday) as an attack on science and research in an independent Scotland rebounded badly upon George Osborne.

Mr Osborne claimed that Scotland’s universities and research would suffer after independence, however just last month the Scottish Council for Development and Industry warned that their “biggest source of concern" for the future of research in Scotland was Westminster’s tightening of student visas.

Click for SCDI's warning
The SCDI gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament warning that the tightening of student visas “is a huge challenge to universities socially and financially and to Scotland economically".

Scotland’s universities punch well above their weight when it comes to innovation, contributing 12.4% of UK research. Much of the funding for such research comes on a pan-European level, such as through the €80 billion Horizon 2020, which is currently being threatened by moves at Westminster to isolate the UK from the rest of Europe.

Commenting, SNP MSP Dr Aileen McLeod said:

“This is a spectacular own-goal by George Osborne as only last month the SCDI warned that it was Westminster’s student visa policy that was the ‘biggest source of concern’ for Scotland’s university research sector.

“Far from an independent Scotland damaging research, it is having the powers to set our own policies that will allow us to protect our cutting edge research sector.

“Perhaps George Osborne has simply not been paying attention to what impact Westminster’s decisions are having in Scotland, but his ill-judged statement is hugely embarrassing for him.

“He is either oblivious to what is happening in Scotland or else he is being intentionally disingenuous.

“Scotland's universities currently participate in a wide range of international research funding collaborations involving multiple funding sources, including national research councils in many countries and international agencies (including the EU), who support the cutting edge research for which Scotland's universities rightly are recognised.

“Mr Osborne seems to be making the astonishing assertion that following independence research councils south of the border would be debarred from including Scotland's research universities alone in such collaborations. These threats don't work and won't work.

“Scotland’s research sector punches above its weight, but if it is to continue to do so we need the powers of an independent Scotland to ensure that it is not sabotaged by short-sighted decisions at Westminster."
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